*This article originally appeared in the 2012 Houston Texans Yearbook.
Long snapper Jon Weeks has come a long way in three years. Prior to joining the Texans in May of 2010, the former Baylor Bear was in training to become a firefighter in Arizona, and he went through EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) schooling to do so.
Just six months before he embarked upon what has now become a three-year career in the NFL, Weeks brushed up against the league while performing a CT scan as part of his job. Then-Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme left a road game against the Arizona Cardinals to have the test conducted at an area hospital, and Weeks was the technician on duty. The two would become teammates in December of 2011.
Amazingly, that meeting with Delhomme wasn't the oddest part of Weeks' stint at the hospital.
Weeks said he encountered a patient on an overnight shift that was in need of a CAT scan because "ninjas had put a computer chip" in his brain. Weeks performed the scan, saw no sign of a computer chip – or ninjas, for that matter – and sent the man on his way.
A few years later, it turns out Weeks is a great long snapper.
"Jon is as good as the best guys in this league," special teams coordinator Joe Marciano said. "There are several guys that are pretty darn good, and he ranks right up there with them."
Punter Brett Hartmann, who was the Texans' holder for part of last season on placekicks, agrees.
"He puts the ball right on the money, every time," Hartmann said. "Especially on short snaps, which is great for the holder but especially for the kicker because you can see the ball longer."
Kicker Shayne Graham, who joined the Texans in early May prior to the start of OTAs (organized team activities), quickly saw Weeks' excellence in practice.
"I haven't noticed any movement once the ball is caught from the holder," Graham said. "If you don't notice anything, that means it's good."
Like umpires, referees and left tackles, the cloak of anonymity is worn with pride by a long snapper.
"People don't call his name, and that's good," Marciano said.
Weeks compared the way he snaps to a golf swing, invoking the idea of doing the same thing over and over with exact precision every time.
"It's muscle-memory," Weeks said. "Some golfers have to tweak their swings. In some instances, I can do certain things to bring the ball up a little bit more, make the ball a little bit faster, bring the ball down a little bit more.
"You find your punter's comfort level, and every punter is different. I strive to try to put the ball there every time."
Before making it to the NFL in 2010, Weeks was discovered by Marciano and the Texans at a Phoenix-area special teams camp run by former NFL assistant coach Gary Zauner. When he wasn't working as an EMT and training to be a firefighter, Weeks was honing his skills at the camp, and he got his break in the winter and early spring of 2010.
"He was the best one there," Maricano said. "We saw a kid with a lot of velocity and accuracy, and that's what you look for. The rest is history."
Weeks said he relied on his confidence at the camp, and a subsequent May tryout in Houston, to help win the job.
"There was never a doubt in my mind I could do it," Weeks said. "All there was, was the lack of opportunity to snap in front of scouts and the chance to try and impress somebody. When it came to confidence, I am very confident in myself as a long snapper. I believe I'm the best that there is in the league, but I think that's how all of us are. I think this is one of those positions, like most in the NFL, that if you don't believe you're the best, then you're not going to be here for awhile."
Weeks wants to stick in the NFL for as long he can, and Marciano firmly believes he has a bright future.
"If he stays healthy, he can snap for a long time," Marciano said.
Graham, who has spent a decade in the NFL and also went undrafted like Weeks, has a unique perspective for what Weeks' life after football will look like – whenever that might be.
"He's not a guy who's taking any of this for granted," Graham said. "I worked in a car wash. I worked as a substitute teacher. I worked at a Gold's Gym. I did everything. So I respect the fact that he went into a job field that's a pure necessity, that's kind of on a hero-type level.
"Someone's life and death would have been in his hands, and that's very respectable. Then, to master a craft that 32 people in the world have, as a long snapper in the NFL, it says a lot that he's able to make that transition, and I guarantee you if it came down to it and there was an emergency on the field, he could step into the situation and save somebody's life if he had to."
Ninjas, computer chips, fires and long snapping. No matter the situation, Weeks is the man for the job.