Mitchell Schwartz Doesn’t Mind Talking About His Streak of Consecutive Snaps

Aug 07, 2018 | by Jonathan Jones, SI.com

WHO: Kansas City Chiefs
WHERE: St. Joseph, Missouri
WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 5 – Monday, Aug. 6
HOW: Flight from Cincinnati to Kansas City with a layover in Chicago

Mitchell Schwartz and I are about halfway into our conversation in Sunday morning’s blazing heat when I drop a question I’m not sure he wants to talk about.

“Do you talk about the streak at all?” I ask.

“I’m not superstitious,” he replies. Game on.

The seventh-year right tackle has not only started in all 96 games of his NFL career, but he’s also never missed a snap. Unofficially, Schwartz has played 6,341 consecutive snaps. And after spending his first four years in Cleveland before his next two as a second-team All Pro in Kansas City, he’s gunning for Joe Thomas’s record.

“He [played] 10,363 [consecutive snaps] because he uses that on all his autographs now,” says Schwartz, who couldn’t come up with his own exact number. “I really want to beat it so it invalidates these next four years of autographs.”

So much goes into not missing a snap for six seasons, and remaining healthy is one aspect—Mitchell’s older brother, Geoff, played along the offensive line for eight seasons with a number of teams, including the Chiefs in 2013, but a rash of lower body injuries ultimately ended his career by the time he was 30. Mitchell credits good fortune for being able to avoid those kind of injuries.

Schwartz also recalls a story regularly told by Thomas, one that nearly ended his own streak. In a 2013 Thursday night game against Cincinnati, the Browns tried to substitute Vinston Painter in for Thomas late in the Browns’ 24-3 win. Earlier in the game, center Alex Mack had broken his leg (ending his consecutive snaps streak at 5,279), and head coach Mike Pettine presumably wanted to preserve his All Pro left tackle. But Thomas dismissed a confused Painter from the huddle and sent him back to the bench. After the series was over, offensive line coach Andy Moeller asked the remaining offensive linemen if they wanted a sub. They declined.

“There’s that element of just getting lucky,” Schwartz says, remembering back to his third year in the league. “If I was a rookie I probably would have been taken out.”

To break Thomas’s record, Schwartz cannot miss a play in his next 4,023 snaps. During the last six years, he’s averaged 1,056 snaps a season—if his average holds, he would break the record during the fourth quarter of the 13th game of the 2021 season.

Remember how I said the snap count is unofficial? The NFL doesn’t track consecutive snaps, but it does track consecutive starts. Though there are a handful of players with more consecutive starts than Schwartz, all of those players missed snaps in 2017. So you can eliminate everyone above Schwartz in consecutive starts for being in contention for consecutive snaps.

The 6,341 snap total for Schwartz comes from Pro Football Reference. And Schwartz has been trying to do the math on Thomas’s 10-year-plus total of 10,363 snaps and some things aren’t adding up for him.

“I’ve played six seasons and I’m over 6,000. I think they screwed up his...,” Schwartz says before trailing off. “I shouldn’t say this because I’m trying to beat him.”

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