Skip to content

Mike Schneck, Steelers Offensive Lineman/Long-Snapper, 1999-2004

January 9, 2012

Mike Schneck:

First, can you let readers know about your work with Variety Pittsburgh – what the organization does, your role and how you got involved?

I’m President of the Board of Variety Pittsburgh.  It was founded actually in Pittsburgh eighty-five years ago as an international charity for kids with disabilities. First, we have the Kids on the Go program where we get hardware – things like ramps, wheelchairs, that sort of thing to help kids get out of the house and moving around.

The second are our other programs and events. We have a week-long camp in August, various holiday parties for Valentines Day, Halloween…a fishing tournament…. It’s all done so that families and their kids can socialize. We take it for granted we can go do whatever we want. It’s not that easy for these families, so we try to provide them with those opportunities.

What made you decide to get involved in this cause?

Actually, my dad just stepped off the board of Variety in Milwaukee. Because of his involvement as I was growing up I was familiar and understood the value of donating time as well as money.

Have you worked with the Steelers on any of the events you’ve run for these kids – if so, how?

The team and players have been amazing. When I came to camp in 2000 I brought five-to-ten families to camp. Now, Heath Miller perpetuates that today. I had to train the players to go up and talk to the families at fist, but now every year they see those families pulling up they go and sign autographs and talk to them.

Heath Miller and {Steelers Community Relations Manager} Michele Rosenthal have been great in carrying this on – I owe them a big thanks.
You were signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Steelers in 1999. Why did you choose the Steelers among the various teams you could have signed with?

Coming out of college – first,  I left early. The coaches weren’t too happy about that. Jay Hayes was my special teams coach there. I had worked out with Cincinnati and San Francisco, but then Jay was hired as the special teams coach by the Steelers and those teams stopped calling me (laughing). They knew I was going to Pittsburgh with Jay – it was a no-brainer.

As a long-snapper, what if anything threw you off your game the most?

There’s really nothing a team can do to you. I suppose if the team put a lot pf pressure up front to block the punt, you had to worry about getting the snap correct and not allowing the punt to be blocked too. But that wasn’t usually a big issue. The weather you can’t control – the rain, wind and snow. Really, the cold worse than the snow – the snow didn’t bother me. I was never able to snap with gloves so the cold and the new balls the NFL started implementing my second year  made getting a good grip all the more crucial.

Who helped take you under their wing as a rookie on that Steelers team – both on and off the field – and how did they do so?

I was fortunate coming to the NFL from Wisconsin. The staff had a lot of NFL experience so I learned a lot from them. Jay being there helped a lot. He told me what I needed to do – I didn’t have to figure it out on my own.

Josh Miller and I are still good friends – he was my punter then. He helped me with the transition. Coach Cowher doesn’t let anything slide – his personality made sure you had yourself ready for every game. Really, you just figured it out, or you didn’t have a job.

Especially in the long-snapper position, there must be a great deal of repetition in your training regimen. How did you break up the monotony in those practices and how much did humor play a part in that – any examples?

That’s definitely an understatement. The repetition is a tough thing to deal with. I spent more time practicing by myself than with other players. I’d play games in my head to break up the monotony – things to snap at, that kind of thing. But it didn’t help a lot – you just had to deal with it. It’s part of the game – it comes with the territory.

How did humor play a part?

Humor was critical. Josh and I had too much fun sometimes.

I was fortunate to be in that Steelers locker room with all of those guys. You get to act like a kid more than anyone else gets too. You get to goof around but it’s still a job. Hampton, Bettis, Porter were all hilarious. I really enjoyed their company.

Any examples of the hijinks?

Bettis didn’t like to get tricked. He had his tv show then and they’d go and ask players questions for the show. They asked me what would surprise people most about Jerome and I told the crew he had a hairpiece. When they ran it during the middle of the show Jerome was not happy (laughing).

Coy Wire played with me in Buffalo and Atlanta. He once climbed on top of the lockers and dumped water on Roddy White. Also, if you didn’t close your hotel room door all the way, he used to sneak in to your bathroom and jump out of the shower to scare you when you went in (laughing).

How did the other players treat you and other long snappers?

The position evolved when I got to the NFL. Punters and kickers were always made fun of – that goes withy the territory. But guys started  seeing teams lose games to snapping mistakes. And when I got hurt the player that came in for me was adequate but not as good and they saw that.

I was seen as a second class citizen too though. But they respected me. There was no point trying to convince them to treat me differently.

Did you feel that you were somewhat “pigeon-holed” in the long-snapper role – did you feel you could contribute more as an everyday lineman as well? Any examples of how you did or felt you could contribute outside of long-snapping?

I had no ability to play another position in the NFL. I played linebacker in high school and practiced with the linebackers in college, but I didn’t have the size or speed to hang with the NFL linebackers. I had a good football mind, but I knew my place and role. I had no ideas other than that role.
You left the team after the 2004 season (and wound up getting an All-Pro nod in Buffalo in 2005). What caused you to leave and how difficult was that for you?

Greg Warren came in and won the battle in camp. The fact that it was Greg made it easier for me. He was a cheaper and maybe a better version of me. I couldn’t blame Coach Cowher for making the decision. In fact, in my exit interview with Coach Cowher I told him I didn’t blame him at all.

But it was difficult, mostly because they won the Super Bowl that season.

Personality-wise, I was getting burnt out under Cowher – it wasn’t his fault – just me personally. I got to the Pro Bowl in 2005 which was great. I’m high-strung  and playing under Cowher can be stressful. I’m not an easy-going person. We got along but it wasn’t the most conducive environment for me to succeed. I played better outside of that environment – I was happier in Buffalo but I missed the Steelers locker room.

Was the Pro Bowl a big enough trade-off?

The Pro Bowl was just a consolation prize for not making the Super Bowl. I couldn’t watch the game – I was in the air flying to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. That was my top experience in the game. It was the justification for what I worked for. But in no way did it substitute for the Super Bowl.

What are your favorite memories of your days in Pittsburgh?

Obviously I played for lots of good teams. The ’01, ’03 and ’04 teams were great teams. I remember coming out of the tunnel in the AFC Championship game and seeing all those Terrible Towels waving.  I’ll never forget that.

It was  a unique locker room and it perpetuates today. Porter was a complete nut – I enjoyed being around him. I  still golf with him sometimes – he’s a terrible golfer but fun to play with.

I still golf with Jerome and Josh Miller is still a great friend. He has one of the most interesting minds… He and Coach Cowher always butted heads. They would go back and forth and Josh was one of the few guys that could do that with Coach Cowher. But Josh kind of forgot his place and Coach Cowher didn’t think too highly of that.
Any last thoughts for readers?

I was fortunate to play eleven seasons in the NFL. I played for three great teams but my fondest memories are here in Pittsburgh. That’s why I never left and it’s still my home base.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: