NFL Pro Bowler presents inspiring magic show at MGM National Harbor
Jon Dorenbos was a two-time NFL Pro Bowler as a long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, but his biggest trick has been survival, and he’s bringing his magic show to MGM National Harbor to spread his message of optimism with the others.
WTOP’s Jason Fraley Previews Jon Derenbos at MGM National Harbor (Part 1)
He was a two-time NFL Pro Bowler as a long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles, but his biggest magic trick is survival, and he spreads his message of optimism with others.
This Saturday, Jon Dorenbos presents his inspiring magic show at MGM National Harbor.
“My show is the story of my life,” Dorenbos told WTOP. ” It’s motivating; it is inspiring; you will see breathtaking magic; you will laugh and think.
The magic “helped me out of the bad times in my life,” Dorenbos said. “Watching your dad go to jail, watching your mom go to heaven…how do you consistently find happiness?”
Born in Humble, Texas, Dorenbos discovered magic to cope with his tragic childhood.
“When I was 12, my father murdered my mother,” Dorenbos said. He and his sister went through intense therapy and temporary foster care, “life changed drastically and a new life began,” Dorenbos said.
“I discovered football, which allowed me to release aggression and anger; then I discovered magic, which was the only time the outside world stopped and I didn’t think about losing my parents.
He started performing magic publicly at school talent shows. In eighth grade, “I actually did a thing that David Copperfield did on national television, where you fold this little piece of paper, you fold it into a rose, the paper rose floats in front of you, and you turn on the thing on fire and it gets real. I don’t think people expected that, so I got first place and got a $25 gift card for Safeway, so I thought to myself: ‘Kill him!’
During that time, he played high school and college football before earning a full scholarship as a long snapper to the University of Texas at El Paso. He was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills and played for them for two years, the Tennessee Titans for two years, and 12 years for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Being a long snapper and being a specialist is 90% mental,” Dorenbos said. “You only get one chance to do your job and you get graded on that. You can play 10 games a game and you have to play 10 for 10.” Over the years, he learned from future Hall of Famers, including coach Andy Reid and teammate London Fletcher, whom Dorenbos called “absolute legend”.
He started competing as a musician on the TV show “America’s Got Talent” in 2016, while still playing for the Eagles.
“8 a.m. to 5 p.m. was training camp in Philadelphia. I then boarded for a 6h15 flight [to L.A.]. I was landing for ‘AGT’ and doing a B-roll shoot, interview shoot, camera block or rehearsal, to get back on a plane at 10:15 a.m., to land in Philadelphia at 7:15 a.m., to arrive at my 8 a.m. clock meeting at boot camp until 5 a.m. to fly back to LA”
After making the Top 3, he was in high demand on national television, with appearances on NBC and “Ellen.”
“It’s not always about the trick,” Dorenbos said. “The trick is the tool. I wanted to be a rock star. Here’s the thing: I can’t sing, I can’t dance, and I can’t play an instrument, so it wasn’t going to happen. But I found that magic, cards, props can be my instrument and words can be my ballad or my jam.
Her stage wardrobe is simple: jeans, a short-sleeved hoodie, and a backwards hat.
“[I’m not] a magician in a top hat and a suit,” Dorenbos said, adding that former teammate LeSean McCoy once told him, “Man, you slow as hell. You gotta put one of those speed towels in the back of your jeans so when you run you look faster on stage.
In 2017, he was traded to the New Orleans Saints but was forced to retire after emergency open-heart surgery. “That season the Philadelphia Eagles decided to go to the Super Bowl and win it,” Dorenbos said.
However, the team has not forgotten: “The owner contacted me and said: ‘You have been part of this organization for a long time; you have helped shape the culture; you helped shape everything in this place. You are an Eagle for life, and we want to give you a [Super Bowl] Ring. … I have to go to the parade and be on the bus.
Today, he holds the record for most consecutive games played as an Eagle, while touring with his magic shows and, despite his debut, reflecting on how lucky he was in the life.
“You can’t wait for life to be easy to be happy,” Dorenbos said. “If a kid came to most people in this world and said, ‘I’m going to make it as a magician and a professional athlete,’ most people would say, ‘Sure, good luck kid. Here I am, lucky to have done both at the highest level. … I left everything on the field and I leave everything on stage. I will give you everything I have.
WTOP’s Jason Fraley Previews Jon Derenbos at MGM National Harbor (Part 2)
Listen to our full conversation here.