If you’re not familiar with the magical stylings of Jon Dorenbos, that may be because until recently, his day job was as a long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, but in the off-season he performs comedy and magic. He recently signed a deal with producer Mike Tollin to make a film about his life; the Eagles’ recent Super Bowl win has moved up the timetable for the project considerably.
Holding the record as the athlete who’s played the most consecutive games as a Philadelphia Eagle, Dorenbos recently had to retire from football due to a serious heart condition. Magic was always his exit strategy for his post-football career; as he cheekily puts it, “NFL stands for ‘not for long'”. He’s got the skills to back it up, too, having made it to the finals of America’s Got Talent and appearing on Ellen several times. It’s not immediately obvious how football and magic overlap, but when Dorenbos explains how he finds comfort in repetition, it all begins to make sense:
“I learned to love doing the same thing over and over in search of the perfect repetition, whether it’s a card trick that seemed almost impossible when I started, or football,” he told Deadline. “My ball spins three and a half times and if I hit the same spot at the same speed, the holder need only catch it, and put it down because the laces are out and it’s ready to go. You can add weather, wind, and that 300-pound plus guy opposite you who’s trying to freaking kill you, but they don’t matter. It’s all about the perfect rep.”
Perfect snaps and great card tricks are an odd combination, sure, but the rest of his life story is also prime cinematic material. As you’ll hear in the above compilation of Dorenbos’ appearances on America’s Got Talent, he was raised by his aunt, but what he doesn’t mention is that it was because his father murdered his mother. He turned to cards to help him cope with that tragic time in his life, a sad commonality shared by so many outstanding magicians.