Apparently in the creation of the 2001-2010 All-Bears Team, I made a horribly egregious error punishable by Coach Ditka smacking me in the face and sentencing me to being the waterboy for the 1996 Packers team. Now, it's time for me to atone for that error. A glaring omission was made, which I was reminded of repeatedly in the comments... How could I have possibly not included that most important position of special teams, beyond the punter, the kicker, and even the returner? I speak, of course, of He Who Is All That Is Man - Bears long-snapper Patrick Mannelly.
Patrick Mannelly was a sixth round draft pick of the Bears in 1998 as, yes, an offensive tackle. You might remember this draft as the draft that saw Curtis Enis drafted in the first round, Tony Parrish in the second, and Olin Kreutz in the third, yet when the first extra point of the season goes through the uprights, Mannelly will have played in more seasons as a Bear than any of those players, and already tops the list of games played with 205 compared to Olin's 191. That kind of longevity is noteworthy in and of itself.
However, Mannelly's skills go largely underappreciated. As new Bears punter Adam Podlesh said this week on the Score in regards to his own duties as a holder, it's a thankless job where if the announcers don't say your name, it's better. What is so great about Mannelly is his dominating consistency. I can hardly recall the last time I saw a Patrick Mannelly snap sail over a kicker's head, or be delivered so the holder can't control it. The excellent work of Mannelly is what helped Maynard, Edinger and Gould succeed over lo these many years.
For further evidence of the fine play of Patrick Mannelly, look no further than this last preseason. My brother and I attended the home preseason match against Oakland - you might remember this as the day Mannelly was injured and unable to perform his duties. What my brother and I witnessed that day can only be described as a horrific long snapping nightmare worthy of Tales of the Crypt, narrated by Al Davis. All apologies to Desmond Clark, but Patrick Mannelly, you are not.
So Patrick Mannelly, if you are reading this, please do not be angered enough with your omission to long-snap a football through my window directly at my head, and know that your place in Bears lore is well secure.