Special Group of Professionals

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So it wasn't the best weekend for the Cal special teams, but there is no denying that the unit has vastly improved since Jeff Genyk took it over this spring. Starting punter Bryan Anger was awarded Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week after a stellar performance punting the ball amidst high UCLA pressure.

In today's edition of "Bears in the Pros", we look at three formerly valuable special teams' members that continue to succeed in the NFL.

Ryan Longwell

Here is a guy that has been in the league so long that most probably forgot where and when he attended college. Yes, Ryan Longwell kicked for Cal from 1993-1996, when Keith Gilbertson and Steve Mariucci headed the Bears. Now in his 14th season in the NFL, Longwell has established himself as one of the finest placekickers in the league.

Prolific during his nine seasons in Green Bay, Longwell is the Packers' all-time points leader with 1054 and their all-time leader in field goals made with 226. Longwell is also the fifth-most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history, having converted 82.2-percent of his attempts.

Longwell has hit the headlines recently not because of his kicking performance, but because he has emerged as an unofficial spokesperson for longtime teammate and friend Brett Favre.

Longwell played with the surefire Hall-of-Fame quarterback for all nine seasons in Green Bay and was reunited with the quarterback legend in Minnesota in 2009. Longwell was a go-to interview during the 2010 offseason regarding whether or not Favre would return to the Vikings, and has resurfaced recently because of a text message scandal involving Favre.

Nick Harris

A survivor from the dark days of former head coach Tom Holmoe, Nick Harris is one of three Bears currently playing for the Detroit Lions (Jahvid Best and Zack Follett being the other two).

During his time at Cal, Harris set the NCAA career record for punting yardage and was a consensus All-American in 2000. Harris certainly was punting a lot during his time in Berkeley (the teams from 1997-2000 finished 15-30, including the four forfeited wins from 1999), but his performance was good enough to earn him a fourth round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft.

After brief stints with the Denver Broncos and Cinicinnati Bengals, Harris has found his niche with the Lions, having punted for them since 2003.

Harris is having a successful 2010 campaign, having launched the fourth-longest punt of the year (a 66-yard bomb against Philadelphia) and averaging 43.8 yards per punt.

David Binn

Two weeks ago, Bears in the Pros profiled long snapper Nick Sundberg in his first season with the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, Binn is out for the season with a hamstring injury, but Binn is a little-known San Diego Charger legend.

Binn, who played for Cal from 1991-1994, is the all-time leader for the Chargers in games played. He is the last remaining player from the San Diego Charger team that played in the 1995 Super Bowl and is the second-longest tenured player in the NFL after Detroit Lions' kicker Jason Hanson.

A little known fact about Binn is that he dated Pamela Anderson from 2007-2008. Binn now joins the legendary ranks of Tommy Lee, Bret Michaels, Marcus Schenkenberg, Kid Rock and Rick Salomon (most famous for his role in "One Night in Paris") as those who have dated the famed "Baywatch" star.


Gabriel Baumgaertner is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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