Magic, not football, saved Jon Dorenbos

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You’ve probably heard of Jon Dorenbos.  The veteran long snapper made a headline here last Agust for suffering an injury in the Eagles’ preseason opener at Chicago.

But you probably don’t know his story.  You should.

At the age of 12, Jon’s father killed his mother.  Jon found comfort not in football, but magic.

“I would record these magic specials on TV,” he tells Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.  “And then I could put the VCR in late at night, and I could watch the magic shows, and I could try and figure them out. I would go in my room for hours and hours and hours.  I would literally have a little flashlight.  And my sister and I shared a room.  And she’d fall asleep.  And I’d click this flashlight on.  And then all of a sudden I’d look over at the clock and it’s six in the morning and I gotta go to school at, like, 7:40. . . .  It was this place that I could go that nothing else around me mattered. It gave me a purpose.  It gave me something that didn’t reject me. It gave me something that I could work at and I could see progression and I could master. . . .

“It was something that at the darkest time in my life was genuinely fun for me.  It saved me, man.  It really did.”

Dorenbos also mastered football, winning a scholarship with a little sleight of hand when editing a highlight reel.  (He included highlights from two of his high school teammates.)  He then learned how to long snap, he mastered that, too, and he has been doing it for 11 years in the NFL.  He’ll surely be doing magic a lot longer.

You’ll hear the compelling story of Jon Dorenbos and see his impressive skills if you tune in to HBO on Tuesday, August 19 at 9:00 p.m.

11 responses to “Magic, not football, saved Jon Dorenbos

  1. Wow what an interesting story, I too have a passion for trying to figure out magic tricks, it’s a really fun way to hone one’s sleuthing and logic processing skills. If you can figure out how people do the impossible, then finding the answers to everyday simple problems starts to become far more routine.

  2. From Philly, not an Eagle’s fan, but love Dorenbos. Dudes awesome, his back story and just the different charity stuff he is always doing with the Wing Bowl and all. Good for him for rising thru what he had to deal with when he was a kid.

  3. Dorenbos is a professional on and off the field. His back story shows the strength of his character. The league should do a better job of highlighting players like Jon.

  4. My best friend from school, who happened to snag an internship with the Bills, became really good friends with Jon Dorenbos.

    We always picked on him for choosing the long-snapper out of all the players to make friends with…but his words about Dorenbos showed why that ended up being the case.

    “He was, by far, the nicest guy I have ever met in my entire life, hands down. He would do anything for anybody, without even thinking twice about it. He is one of those guys you will never forget…and if it’s up to him, you’ll never lose touch with him.” (And this is an extremely privileged kid who grew up knowing some class acts…his step-dad’s best friend was a longtime trainer for the Redskins, and I distinctly remember meeting Chip Lohmiller and Mark Rypien with him a couple times.)

    Matt and I are no longer best friends, so I don’t know if they still communicate…but last I knew, Dorenbos showed up at Matt’s wedding, with a $1000 gift, and ended up being the life of the wedding that night.

    It’s cool to see a story like this, in what has otherwise become an offseason with stories that are not as memorable as this.

    I hope Jon and his family are doing well.

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