Snee emerges from a one-stoplight town to Giants' spotlight
Chris Snee, 26, is a starting guard for the Giants and son-in-law of coach Tom Coughlin. He'll be on center stage in the Super Bowl. But, in a lot of ways, Snee never left tiny Montrose, Pa.
A town searching for something
Once upon a time, Montrose thrived.
'The best thing to ever happen to this place'
Maybe, without even realizing it, Montrose has found something. In the middle of its winter, Montrose has Snee.
"I worked in a stone quarry there," Snee said. "I worked in a factory. I know how tough times can be there. That's where it all started for me. I don't want to forget the people that were so integral in me getting here. Montrose is important to me."
That's why Snee comes back for a week after each season. He comes back each spring for a chili-cooking contest to raise money for a building fund for Montrose General Hospital and each summer for a punt, pass and kick contest for United Way. Snee also comes back because Montrose is the one place he truly feels at home.
"It's nice to get away from the fast pace and drive 20 miles an hour down a dirt road," Snee said. "It's also nice to go to a place where I know everybody."And everybody knows Snee.
Low key, despite the celebrity
If you met Ed and Diane Snee, you'd never suspect they were the parents of an NFL player.
They live in the same house they moved into before Chris' senior year of high school. It's on a dirt road about 10 miles outside town. Not long ago, Ed was working on his truck one night. The dogs started barking, so Ed crawled out from under the truck. He looked up and saw a bear crossing the road. He went back to work.
Ed and Diane aren't originally from Montrose, but they have been here long enough to be of Montrose. They used to live in Edison, N.J., and had just started a family when Diane's mother moved here.
"We visited and just fell in love with it," Diane said."Better air, you can breathe here," Ed said. "Better environment. You can't make a lot of money here, but you've got to do what's best for your kids." The family moved to Montrose just before Chris started kindergarten, and his three brothers -- Ed, Dan and Shaun -- also played football and graduated from high school here. Ed still drives a cement truck, although he's laid off for much of the winter because it's too cold to pour. Diane works as a secretary and nurse's assistant at Montrose General.
Snee's 'meteoric' rise
Still, if you look at the hometowns on the rosters of the Giants and the New England Patriots, Montrose might qualify as the longest shot to put a player in the Super Bowl.The immediate Scranton area has sent an occasional player (Mike Munchak, Tim Ruddy and Jimmy Cefalo) to the NFL. But as best as the locals can figure, Snee is the first from Susquehanna County (where only two of the six high schools have football teams) to make it to the NFL, and he also is believed to be the only county player to receive a Division I-A football scholarship. Coming from a high school where the weight room was in a little shack and the players drank water from a rusty pipe, Snee started drawing attention as a sophomore. "Chris was faster than most of the running backs in the area," Lucenti said. Despite a roster of only 23 players, the Meteors won league championships in 1997 and '98. Also playing defensive end, Chris had 47 sacks in a three-year career and a 95 average in the classroom. "We played against the Scranton schools, and their kids got all the attention because that's where the newspapers and television stations were," Lopez said. "But it just got to a point where Chris was such a man among boys that people couldn't ignore him anymore." College recruiters flocked to Montrose, and Lucenti sought out advice from coaches at Scranton schools who had been through the process. The Snees just felt their way as best they could. "They were like, 'Go to Notre Dame or go here for a visit,'" Ed said. "I was like, 'We ain't Rockefeller.' We didn't know they would pay for you to visit.''
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