By Sam Farmer Contact Reporter
He could be on the Philadelphia Eagles. He could be on the New Orleans Saints.
Thankfully for Jon Dorenbos, he’s on neither roster.
Dorenbos, 37, a Pro Bowl long snapper entering his 15th season, saw his career come to an abrupt end in September when John Amoss, a doctor for the Saints, discovered Dorenbos’ life-threatening heart condition after the final exhibition game. It was an aortic aneurysm that went undetected by the Eagles, who traded Dorenbos to New Orleans this summer after 12 seasons in Philadelphia.
Days later, Dorenbos underwent 10 hours of open-heart surgery to repair the genetic condition that could have led to him dying on the field.
“The surgeons told me that had I been hit in the chest really hard, or if I maybe ran a little harder than normal and maybe increased the heartbeat — my aorta was a water balloon that could hold no more water,” he said. “And if your aorta bursts and ruptures, you’re dead instantly. Before you hit the ground, there’s not anything anybody can do.”
Dorenbos, who lives in Huntington Beach with his wife, Annalise, is now a thankful spectator even as both franchises have emerged as Super Bowl contenders. The Eagles practiced this week at Angel Stadium — within 15 miles of his home — in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Rams.
What began as shock and fear has evolved into a deep sense of gratitude. Dorenbos didn’t cry when the Eagles traded him, yet tears fell when he had his first shower after surgery, or felt the wind on his face while riding in a car, or felt the rain.
“It got to the point where everything I did, it was like the first time,” said Dorenbos, who played two seasons in Buffalo and a third in Tennessee before joining the Eagles.