If you’re not playing in the Super Bowl, then reporting on it is the next best thing.
While Jon Dorenbos’ team, the Philadelphia Eagles, didn’t make it to the playoffs this year, the long snapper may have earned himself a new career as a TV host — with a little helping hand from Ellen DeGeneres.
Dorenbos, 36, was on the field at NRG Stadium in Houston with Brady, Belichick, Edelman, Gronkowski and co. after the New England Patriots’ historic comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5, with a mic in his hand instead of a ball.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Dorenbos told TheWrap afterwards. “I’ve been a fan of Ellen’s energy and positively for many years — her heart is always in the right place and she treats people right.”
Never having been in the big game himself (Dorenbos signed with the Eagles two years after their Super Bowl XXXIX appearance in 2005 when they lost to — you guessed it — the Patriots), he said he had wanted to save his first Super Bowl trip for actually playing it. “But then they [Ellen’s production team] called, and I thought ‘hell yes!'” Dorenbos said.
DeGeneres packed him off to Super Bowl LI with her producer/butt of many jokes, Andy Lassner, who looked very much out of his depth on the football field for a practice with NFL stars Kurt Warner, Von Miller, Donald Driver and Hines Ward the day before Super Bowl Sunday.
“You can’t be shy, just get in there,” former St. Louis Rams Super Bowl champ Warner told him, while demonstrating some serious ass-slapping moves.
Once Andy had finally scored a touchdown (with a lot of help), he and Dorenbos headed to Radio Row, the Super Bowl’s media hub for the week to entertain some young fans with magic tricks.
Hands down the coolest part of Jon and Andy’s Super Bowl experience came when they entered the tunnel Sunday to see the Patriots and the Falcons take to the field, where they encountered not only the NFL’s best players, but some of Hollywood’s biggest names such as New England super fan Mark Wahlberg (before he left early, of course).
“I’ve also played with a lot of the guys on the Patriots and Falcons. I love Matt Ryan, Danny Amendola … Bill Belichick and I are tight. He’s a great dude and I got a little handshake and a hug on the field after they won,” Dorenbos told TheWrap of New England’s notoriously gruff head coach. “Then you’ve got Ellen’s pull, so it all came out to be a really good piece,” he added.
Poor Lassner, who’d never been to a football game before, was lucky he didn’t get punched as he ran around slapping everyone on the ass from NBA giant Yao Ming to Pats’ game-changer Julian Edelman, as Dorenbos ran behind egging him on.
“Most of it wasn’t scripted,” Dorenbos said, and even more miraculously, “nobody got upset about the ass-slapping. Doing it to Edelman was the highlight of my trip.”
Even Jon jumped for joy and squealed like a little girl when he got to touch the Lombardi Trophy — because, let’s face it, that’s the closest the Eagles are going to get to it for a while.
Dorenbos first caught DeGeneres’ attention when he performed on Season 11 of “America’s Got Talent,” where he made it through the first round of auditions with his slick card tricks. The NFL player went on to wow the judges with his football and magic skills, ending his run in Sept. 2016 in third place.
Magic has long been something he’s turned to during the off-season, especially as he never thought his football career would last this long anyway. “I always thought I was going to get cut so I’d go and perform … then 14 years later, I am still in the league,” he marveled.
“It’s made me a better player and the balance has helped. I can’t just sit around because I get bored. Magic is a great way to break up the monotony of the day in the locker-room with your teammates,” he said.
While it looks like fun and games now, Dorenbos’ passion for magic was born out of childhood tragedy. At age 12, his mother was killed by his father, and while Alan Dorenbos was serving 13 years for second degree murder, Jon was shuttled into foster care.
“I think of it as crime of passion. I loved my mom and I love my dad,” Dorenbos said. “My life became about finding forgiveness and searching for happiness because I always wonder if my mom was happy when she died,” he pondered.
After a lengthy legal battle during which time he and his sister went throughout some “pretty serious therapy,” Dorenbos eventually landed at his aunt and uncle’s home, where he began performing magic tricks to ease the stress of his situation.
“I stayed with a Little League coach for the summer. His son was a magician and it was the coolest thing I had ever see,” Dorenbos explained, detailing how when he was sitting shuffling cards “it was the one time I was completely by myself. That was my therapy.
“Even today, if I need to make an important decision, I sit down and shuffle cards — it might go on for five minutes or six hours.”
Now boasting 13 seasons in the NFL and two Pro-Bowl visits, Dorenbos is still putting his faith in where the cards fall regarding his future — whether it is in magic, corporate speaking or TV hosting.
“The more you can get involved in things outside