Jon Dorenbos
After the NFL, life is pretty magical
By Dave Spadaro

Jon Dorenbos keeps reminding himself: “You got this. You’re great at this. You’ve done it many times, and this is just another opportunity to make someone happy.” Still, he’s nervous. His audience is fidgeting, unsure what to expect with this man standing there, a bundle of energy and nerves.

So Jon Dorenbos does what he’s always done in a life that has dealt him some cruel blows: He rolls up his sleeves and charges straight ahead. What awaits is not for the faint of heart:

The poopy diaper.

“My life has changed,” Dorenbos says as he prepares for two sold-out shows at The Borgata. Dorenbos became a father for the first time when his wife, Annalise, gave birth to Amaya Love Dorenbos in May. “Being a father is mind blowing. It’s an incredible experience and it puts everything in perspective.”

“I had never changed a diaper before my daughter. Never with a niece or a nephew or anything like that. Those first couple of times, it was interesting. Such a mess. Amaya is just lying there looking at me and laughing and giggling, and it’s an explosion everywhere. I have it down now. Keep the legs up, put padding down in case she explodes, and be gentle. The only tough things is the Velcro and applying pressure. I want to be gentle. I have my whole world in my hands when I’m changing her diapers and holding her.”

The world of Jon Dorenbos, a Phila­delphia Eagles Pro Bowl long snapper (the guy who snaps the football on punts and field goal attempts, if you didn’t already know) from 2006-2016 and who tied a franchise record with 162 consecutive starts, is rocking. Nicknamed the “Magic Man” when he played for the Eagles for his work in the world of magic – you might remember that successful run to third place on the 2016 season of America’s Got Talent – Dorenbos is doing some exploding himself. Dorenbos performs his magic show for corporate audiences as well as theaters, up to 150 shows a year. He’s a regular on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and his memoir, “Life Is Magic” from Simon & Shuster will be released in November.

For a man who overcame a family tragedy – Dorenbos’s father savagely killed his mother when he was 12 – and then survived a near-fatal aortic aneurysm days after the Eagles traded him to the New Orleans Saints in the summer of 2017, life is, well, magic.

“I’ve never been happier. I cut back on my travel when Amaya was born. I used to enjoy the travel, the grind,” Dorenbos says. “Now, I walk out of the house, get into a car and go to the airport, and I cry. I’m choked up. It’s hard to leave her. It’s hard to leave my family. But this is the way I’ve set up my life. My entire NFL career, I knew the game was going to end and that I had to set myself up for something after ball. I enjoyed the NFL for what it was. It was great to me, and I loved every minute of it.”

“But when the offseason came around, I had my magic, and I worked at it and developed it. It was hard work. It’s still hard work. I didn’t want the game of football to be my lasting identity. I wanted to be passionate about something once the game was done. It just all worked out so beautifully. I wanted to help people who could hear my message, have a great time at my shows and take away a feeling that they can overcome everything in their lives.”

Dorenbos returns to the area in Novem­ber to play The Borgata, and his show is a multimedia and magic extravaganza of his extraordinary life. After his moth­er’s death and his father’s incarceration when Dorenbos was young, he lived with his aunt and dived into magic to escape the despair. Along the way, Dorenbos became a pretty good football player and eventually reached the NFL with the Buffalo Bills.

His NFL fame happened with the Eagles, and in his time in Philadelphia, Dorenbos touched countless people with his personality, his story and his incredible magic. Always open about his life story, Dorenbos’ realness hit home with a fan base that is now international.

“We all have challenges, and we all have lives that continually evolve,” Dorenbos says. “I just tell a story that is truthful and real.”

“My brand is ‘Life Is Magic.’ The world is how you see it. You can become whatever you tell yourself you want to become. I know firsthand that life isn’t easy. Nobody is going to hand you anything. You have to create your path by working hard and by believing that something positive is going to happen for you.”

Everything is positive for Dorenbos these days. He lives in California and travels the country – even into Canada and Mexico – and accepts only about half of the offers for inspirational speaking engagements that he receives. Business is booming. The brand is rocking.

And little Amaya is waiting at home for her daddy.

“I walk through that door and I see my wife and my daughter, and they are happy to see me, in love with me, man, that’s all I need,” Dorenbos says.

“Every day is a new adventure. I embrace that. My NFL days are behind me, and I will cherish those memories forever. They were awesome. This is a new chapter in my life. I know not everything is going to be easy. I accept that challenge. I’m ready for whatever is in front of me.”

Even the poopy diapers.

Fact is, when Jon Dorenbos is on the road and he’s got thousands of fans cheering for him and giving him standing ovations, he can’t wait to get back to the diapers and the baby and the family.

And the love.

“I’ve been blessed, and I’m grateful for everything,” Dorenbos says. “My brand is ‘Life Is Magic’ because, truly, that’s what I believe. That’s how I see this world.”

September 2019
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