From Super Bowl to 6th Street
By Mike Endres
At 6’5″ and 270 lbs, Officer Jared Retkofsky’s oversized Super Bowl XLIII ring seemed almost unnoticeable. Shaking his massive hand on a sunny street corner in Austin, Texas was like shaking a bunch of bananas in the fruit section of the supermarket. Now working as an Austin Police Officer, the former Pittsburgh Steelers long snapper recalled the story of how he earned a spot on a team that competed in and won the most popular sporting event in America.
“I started playing football in the third grade in Wichita, Kansas. I played from pee wee through middle school before my family relocated to Fort Worth, Texas when I was a freshman in high school. Through my high school career I didn’t care where I played football as long as someone allowed me to.”
Jared said that he was fortunate enough to earn a full athletic scholarship to Texas Christian University, a university that he said was otherwise out of reach for him. “I declined full scholarships from Iowa State University, University of North Texas, Southern Methodist University and several other Division II schools.” By the time Jared graduated from TCU in 2007, he was considered the second best long snapper in the country and earned a spot in the National Football League Scouting Combine. “I competed there and would eventually be signed as a free agent in 2007 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After signing a ‘future player’s contract’, I was released from the team prior to the start of camp. I returned home and began looking for work. I was fresh out of college with a degree and no experience. It was frustrating to me that I couldn’t find a decent job. I eventually took the first job I could find, which was working for a moving company. I started out making $12 an hour working six days a week.”
“I continued working with the moving company until the Steelers called again, this time inviting me to their pre-season training camp. I reported to camp as they were in full motion. I ended up playing in two pre-season games before being released for the second time prior to the start of the season. I returned home and again went to work carrying furniture. I continued moving furniture while I was being flown all over the country for workouts with different teams. However, as the long snapper position in the NFL you’re either one of the top 32 players or you’re out. The following year, I signed another futures contract with the Steelers, prompting me to leave the moving company and again train with the Steelers. I trained through the summer and would be released for the third time prior to the start of training camp.”
“It was October, 2008 when I got the call after a Sunday afternoon Steelers game. The long-time snapper for the Steelers, Greg Warren, suffered an ACL tear that ended his season. The team’s starting linebacker, James Harrison, stepped in to fill the position. After an errant snap by James in a game, I was contacted shortly after by the team. I was briefed on Greg Warren’s status and asked to fly in the following day to compete against two veteran long snappers for the spot. After the workout on Monday I was called in to speak with Kevin Colbert, the general manager, where I was told they were going to sign me to the team. I remember being emotional when Kevin slid the contract in front of me. I remember staring at the contract in shock trying to figure out where to sign with my hands trembling. The following week I played my first game in the NFL on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins.”
Jared continued as the long snapper for the Steelers through the rest of the 2008 season. After the Steelers defeated the San Diego Chargers and the Baltimore Ravens, Jared found himself at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida competing in Super Bowl 43.