No young football players grow up saying they want to be special teams players – with the exception of perhaps kickers or punters.
You don't see any special teams players whose jerseys are among a team's top-10 biggest sellers.
But that doesn't mean special teams players, especially core special teams players, aren't important to an NFL team.
Look at the Steelers' recent game against the the Colts as an example. Missing core special teams players such as Robert Spillane, Miles Boykin, Jaylen Warren and placekicker Chris Boswell because of injuries, the Steelers gave up an 89-yard kickoff return to open the second half, helping the Colts turn a 16-3 halftime deficit into a 17-16 lead. The Steelers rallied to get the win, but it drove home the importance of strong special teams play.
The following week against the Falcons, the special teams units were a major contributing factor to the team's 19-16 win, holding the league's top punt and kick return units in check and downing a punt at the 2-yard line with under one minute to play.
Special teams is more than just taking the bottom 11 players on a roster and putting them on the field in any old fashion. There's an art of building a special teams unit – at least a good one.
And it's something the Steelers take quite seriously, typically keeping four or five players on their roster for their contributions on special teams.
There's a lot that goes into planning each week for the 12 or so special teams plays that take place in each NFL game.
After all, unlike simply playing offense and defense, there are several different duties that special teams units must be prepared to perform each week – punt return, punt coverage, kickoff return, kickoff coverage, hands team and field goal and PAT. And they all take time and effort to prepare each week given a specific opponent.