If you asked the fan base of most NFL teams who their long snapper was, you'd probably get a blank stare then a quick search to come up with a name. Jon Dorenbos generated that same kind of clueless look in the face of his many adoring fans he entertained with his magic tricks.
The prestidigitation will continue for years to come, but Dorenbos the football player has disappeared from Philadelphia. Last night the Eagles dealt their longest tenured player to the Saints in exchange for a 2019 seventh-round draft pick. It was an abrupt move that caught many off guard. And it's safe to say the amount of emotional reaction the trade generated from fans of the team was the most ever seen for a player of his position.
But Dorenbos' story goes well beyond snaps. He endured a hellish event at the age of 12 when his father murdered his mother. He entered foster care and eventually was raised by relatives. He persisted in part by performing magic. And after perhaps his greatest slight of hand trick ended up playing college football at Texas El Paso. Dorenbos was a freshman at a junior college with limited long snapping experience, he fudged a VHS tape using a teammate's long snapping highlights with the understanding it was him and sent it to the coaches at UTEP. It worked, and 14 NFL seasons and two Pro Bowls later, here we are. Or here we were.
Many thought Dorenbos would retire an Eagle, perhaps after this season. But he was injured in December of last season and required wrist surgery. Rick Lovato stepped in, and clearly the Eagles believe he is a dependable replacement. Time will tell. The Birds better be right. A long snapper is much like an offensive lineman or an official. To not notice them is a good thing.
The fact that this many words are being dedicated to Dorenbos is a testament not to the player he is on the football field, where he was incredibly consistent, but the impact he's had on the community since arriving in Philadelphia in 2006. Dorenbos is a dynamic motivational speaker who often incorporates his childhood experience into his magic. He also connected deeply with the fans. Whether it was at training camp, in the parking lot after a game, or at an appearance. His time was theirs. He was one of them.
He's now moved on to New Orleans, and the fun quota in the city just went down a notch.