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NY Jets Friday Spotlight: Tanner Purdum

The Jets' hidden hero.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Friday Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is long snapper Tanner Purdum.

Tanner Purdum is a long snapper.  The only time long snappers are ever in the spotlight is when they make a mistake.  Long snappers can't win the game for you, but they can lose it.  If you hear the long snapper's name called in a game, it is invariably because he made a mistake, usually of the game changing variety.  Purdum's name never gets called.  In a season long lost, with few players really deserving the spotlight, there is no better time than now to have Tanner Purdum's name called for a good reason.  Tanner, the spotlight's all yours today.

Tanner Purdum is a 6' 3", 270 pound, 30 year old long snapper out of Baker College.  After graduating from Baker in 2008, Purdum went undrafted and unsigned until he was signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Chiefs in early 2009.  Cut by the Chiefs in August 2009, Purdum was recommended to the Jets by former Jets punter Louie Aguiar, and was signed  by the Jets in February 2010.  Purdum replaced long snapper James Dearth on the Jets roster in 2010 and has never missed a game since.  Purdum is one of only three players from Baker College ever to play in the NFL, and one of only two to play NFL football since the 1920s.  Coincidentally, both modern day Baker players played for the Jets.  Wide receiver Roger Farmer signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of Baker in1979 and was on the roster for four games without ever registering a reception in  the NFL.

Tanner Purdum played in 35 games as the team's long snapper and backup quarterback in four seasons at Baker College.  After graduating from Baker in 2008 Purdum found no interest at the NFL level for his services, so he served as a graduate assistant coach at Baker.  Purdum is a three-time winner of the NAIA Champions of Character Award, an award that is given to a single participant of the highest character in the NAIA championship game each year.   Purdum is also one of the rare NFL athletes with a graduate degree, having received his master’s degree in education from Baker in 2009.

Tanner Purdum has served as the Jets long snapper for every game since 2010, helping punter Steve Weatherford match an NFL record with 42 punts inside the 20-yard line in 2010 and kicker Nick Folk establish a new team mark for consecutive field goals at home (20).  In five years with the Jets Tanner Purdum has never flubbed a snap.

This week's game against the Dolphins marks the end of a long, disappointing season.  Within a day or two after the Dolphins game head coach Rex Ryan is almost certain to be fired, along with most of the coaching staff, and GM John Idzik may well join Ryan on the rolls of the unemployed.   A new era of Jets football is about to unfold, and many of the current players have to be wondering if they will be part of that era.  Few players have performed well enough that they should feel secure, but Tanner Purdum is one of the few.  The Jets' unsung hero, Purdum does his job every week with zero fanfare and in near total anonymity, his name never called, his play always under the radar.  Today, for this brief moment, that changes.  Today Tanner Purdum is in the spotlight, a spotlight he has richly earned. In this terrible, horrible, no good year, Tanner Purdum quietly keeps being close to perfect.  Thank you Tanner Purdum for a job always well done.