Jon Dorenbos, the football-player-turned-magician, captured our hearts with his appearances on Ellen. He’s dropped by the comedian’s talk show several times to show off magic tricks, and he went decidedly big for his latest visit on the set. He has a giant map of the United States, a pile of oversized footballs, a calculator, a deck of cards, and some highly questionable money-counting. It’s a fun prediction routine that plays really well to the crowd.

He closes with a quick torn-and-restored card trick that offers some very sweet kudos to Ellen. Check out the full performance here:

The phrase “better late than never” is no truer than when it refers to birthday presents; doubly so when that present is a magic trick. 

Ex-Philadelphia Eagle Jon Dorenbos stopped by the set of Ellen yesterday to talk about being awarded a Super Bowl ring in honor of the team’s recent win, and he brought with him a special magic trick to honor Ellen’s birthday. The two go through a deck of cards and throw them around wildly, chucking them into a box, dumping them out of the box, until only one card remains – but there’s another prize in store. Check out the full performance below:

He also performs a second bonus trick, involving a deck of cards and two wine glasses (no wine, unfortunately). 

Dorenbos also briefly mentions that a film about his life is currently in the works. The pro-football player was forced into retirement due to a heart condition, and made the leap into professional magic shortly thereafter, making a few other appearances on Ellen, as well as making it all the way to the America’s Got Talent season 11 finals. 

Who does Dorenbos hope to play him in the movie version of his life? Oh, only Zac Efron or Chris Pratt. You and me both, dude.

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.