Marist's Mannelly and Chicago Bears record; it's a snap

The message in the Mannelly home in Atlanta went like this: Show up each day. Get your job done. Don’t expect praise.

In the Monday Night Football game, Patrick Mannelly will take the field for the Chicago Bears for the 192nd time, get his job done as long snapper and -- for a big change --  draw praise for setting a milestone for one of the NFL’s most historic teams.

No one else will have played more games for the Bears than Mannelly, 35, a Marist graduate. Acknowledgment will come from fans at Soldier Field, and more personally, from 30 family members and friends from Atlanta and beyond.

“I’m reminded of the Bears history every day,” Mannelly said recently by phone from Chicago. “I walk the hallways of Halas Hall and all I see are pictures of former players who are Hall of Famers; the Bears have the most in the NFL. George Halas started the NFL. ... If I am lucky, I can say I have a record in Bears history.”

From Marist, where his brother Bernard also played before going to Notre Dame, Patrick Mannelly went to Duke and majored in history. Everyone should know the past, he believes, in order to look forward.

His story is an accident followed by daily commitment. Bernard Mannelly wanted to learn how to long snap and asked 13-year-old Patrick to help practice out in the yard.

“Long snapping came naturally to me,” said Mannelly, who would become a two-way lineman at Marist and a 6-foot-5, 250-pound NFL veteran who has missed only three games. “God gave me the ability to bend over and snap the ball. I got some big breaks with some of the coaching I got.”

Getting drafted by the Bears was another break, giving him a link to Halas' simple philosophy: “You can achieve only that which you will do.” Mannelly's home base equipped him with the fortitude for the decade and beyond in pro ball.

“I don’t believe there’s ever been a Mannelly who was a showboat or the center of attention,” said Jay Mannelly, the snapper's father. “You do your job and enjoy the team.”

“Actions speak louder than words -- I probably heard that 1,000 times,” Patrick Mannelly said. His penchant for an obsessively tidy room, and now his Range Rover, carried over to perfecting the long snap.

At Marist, Mannelly, “got his work done, didn’t blow his horn,” said Pete Weinburgh, his defensive coordinator there, who will travel from Fort Worth to Chicago for Monday’s game.

Long snappers are like specialized surgeons. When called on, they must deliver -- or risk a crisis.

“Granted, Patrick’s not getting run over every day, but it takes a fair amount of smarts to spend 13 years doing anything where you must be physically and mentally on top of your game,” Weinburgh said. “Long snappers are not necessarily the biggest, strongest, fastest athletes, but for the niche they do, they are the best. It’s like the catcher in baseball, the defenders or midfielders in soccer. You don’t see the long snapper unless he screws up.”

At Marist, Weinburgh taught world history to Mannelly. The teacher believes history -- including Mannelly's record -- is made by those “who thought of themselves as doing what they were supposed to do. Very few say, ‘Oh I am going to be the best there was,’ or ‘I am going to change the world.’ Most time they are the right person and the right time in the right place, and they are not aware of making history.”

Mannelly's career has spanned three head coaches, marriage to Tamara John (whose father is pitcher Tommy John), the death of his mother and the birth of his daughter Tyler, who is now 4. Mannelly wants to continue snapping “until they say I’m not good enough."

After the MNF game against rival Green Bay, the Mannelly celebration will move to Timothy O’Toole’s pub, which is hosting Patrick Mannelly Day.

By the time his entourage returns to Atlanta and beyond, Mannelly will already be preparing for Game 193.