With just 65 days remaining until the Chicago Bears play host to the Green Bay Packers during Week 1 of the NFL season, today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff will focus on the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 65, long time long snapper Patrick Mannelly.
Patrick Mannelly's path to the Chicago Bears
Hailing originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Patrick Mannelly attended the local Marist School. There he participated on the school's football and basketball teams. Athletically, Mannelly was dominant during his scholastic years, earning letters in both sports, but excelled on the gridiron specifically.
The offensive tackle was recognized as Atlanta-area Lineman of the Year during his senior season. Mannelly, who also served as his team's long snapper, was selected to participate in the Georgia-Florida All-Star Game to cap off his high school career.
Following his time at Marist, Mannelly elected to attend Duke University, where he became a four-year letterman on the school's football team. A four-year starter at the long snapper position, Mannelly additionally served as a starting offensive lineman for his final two collegiate seasons before entering his rights into the ensuing 1998 NFL Draft.
Patrick Mannelly's record 16 seasons with the Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears used the 189th overall pick during the sixth round to select Mannelly out of Duke, making the special teamer the franchise's new long snapper. From the first game of his rookie season, Mannelly had the lock position, and after starting in all 48 games of his first three seasons, it became apparent that Mannelly would be with the Bears for the long haul.
In one of the most impressive careers by a Chicago Bears player ever, Mannelly would go on to play 16 seasons with the Chicago Bears from 1998 to 2013. During this time, Mannelly played in 245 total games. Over his career, Mannelly never played in fewer than 10 games during the year and played in all 16 games in a season 12 separate times.
Mannelly didn't just snap the ball, as the special teams ace was actually a pretty involved long snapper in the coverage game. Throughout his career, the Duke product posted 46 total tackles, 36 individual tackles, and a fumble recovery.
Patrick Mannelly's legacy after the Chicago Bears
In Chicago Bears history, Mannelly's 245 games over 16 seasons are both franchise records, but his greatness came not only in his longevity but his consistency. Mannelly's ability as a long snapper is perhaps a large reason behind former Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould's success. Gould, who overlapped with Mannelly on the Bears from 2005 to 2013, posted an 86% field goal rate with Mannelly as his snapper, compared to just an 81.4% rate after Mannelly's retirement.
Mannelly not only assisted the team's kickers but punters as well, and the snapper helped then Chicago Bear Brad Maynard reach Second-Team All-Pro levels in 2004. Mannelly, who frequently served as a team captain during his tenure, was one of the true leaders of not just the special teams unit, but the locker room in general, and the Bears enjoyed some of their best recent success with Mannelly on the squad.
The Bears made four postseason appearances with Mannelly on the roster, including a Super Bowl appearance following the 2006 season and an NFC Championship appearance following the 2010 season. Nonetheless, Mannelly retired from the NFL after the 2014 season and would go on to win the Ed Block Courage Award just months later.
Since he retired from the NFL, Mannelly has remained close to the game of football in a couple of capacities. First, the former Bear has worked with 670 the Score, primarily on the Chicago Bears pregame show. Mannelly has additionally established the Patrick Mannelly Award, a group that nominates the premier Division I long snapper each season.