Few people noticed the kicking game’s success this year during the Miami Dolphins’ mediocre 5-11 season. Placekicker Jason Sanders, in his second season as a Dolphins player, went 23 of 30 on field goal attempts for a 76.7 percent rating, hit the longest field goal of his career at 54 yards and was also money in crunch time with seven of eight made kicks in the fourth quarter and perfection in overtime. Punter Matt Haack bested his career average with an impressive 45 average yards per punt.
Central to this success and even less noticed was long snapper Taybor Pepper. He plays one of the most underrated but important positions in football. Long snappers typically have two seconds or less to get the ball to the holder or punter. The way the ball rotates is vital. These snaps must travel up to 15 yards on punts and about 8 yards on a field goal/extra point. Getting off perfect ones helps everyone execute their jobs perfectly.
Pepper started his career at Michigan State University and was undrafted in 2016. Before joining the Dolphins, he was a part of three teams and attended mini-camp for others. He was signed to a reserve/future contract with the Green Bay Packers in January of 2017 before ending up with the Baltimore Ravens in August of that year. He was waived four days later before beginning a second stint with the Packers, where he played in a few games before suffering a broken foot in practice. He spent a year waiting for a call before the New York Giants signed him to a reserve/future contract in January 2019. He was waived on Aug. 31, 2019, and subsequently signed by the Fins on Sept. 2, 2019.
Pepper, came in and immediately had a spot on the roster as the Fins cut longtime long snapper John Denney. Denney had previously spent his entire career with the Dolphins and even signed a one-year extension on Feb. 8, 2019.
Pepper is also deep in the gaming community. He follows the gaming organization 100 Thieves, which is run and owned by CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag. Among its investors are Drake and businessman Scooter Braun. This is important because NBA players, such as Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, have shown off the brand in arenas on the way to the locker rooms. The brand is becoming more than a gaming organization and its clothes sell on popular apps StockX and GOAT.
Pepper’s contract runs until the end of the 2020-2021 NFL season. It is expected that he will return to the team next season as the long snapper.