Tonight, a SlamBall season champion will be crowned.
SlamBall, the unique sport that combines the best elements of basketball, football, and hockey, relaunched this summer on ESPN platforms and concludes its 2023 season with the semifinals and championship game in Las Vegas’ Cox Pavilion (11 p.m. ET, ESPN). While ESPN’s John Schriffen has been the mainstay voice, a vast array of commentators from a variety of backgrounds have joined him in covering the high-flying action.
Those voices include Jon Dorenbos, a two-time NFL All-Pro long snapper who spent 11 years with the Philadelphia Eagles and 14 seasons in the league overall.
When his NFL career ended in 2017 after the detection of a heart ailment – as ESPN detailed in a compelling profile (see below) – Dorenbos found other challenges. His skills as a magician earned him status as a finalist for NBC’s America’s Got Talent in 2019. He’s also an Eagles Insider, a keynote speaker and author of an Amazon best-selling book, “Life Is Magic.”
Dorenbos recently joined SlamBall on ESPN’s team of commentators, including former fellow NFL star Marshawn Lynch, three-time NBA Slam Dunk champion Nate Robinson, ESPN commentator Stormy Buonantony, and Schriffen.
Front Row caught up with the former UTEP star to get his thoughts on SlamBall, having Lynch involved with the sport, which former Eagles might be good SlamBall prospects, and how magic can be an asset to the game.
What is it like having Lynch, with whom you called the SlamBall quarterfinals on Aug. 15, involved?
If there is any athlete who would get the physicality of SlamBall, it’s Marshawn. From the first minute he came in, you could see how much he loved SlamBall.
Who are some of your former Eagles teammates who would have made great SlamBall players?
There are many. Sheldon Brown, a corner, comes to mind. [Pro Football Hall of Fame] Safety Brian Dawkins was an absolute beast. Also, DeSean Jackson, who was a smaller receiver, but his quickness and ability to control his body would translate well to SlamBall.
I think [current Eagles center] Jason Kelce would have the mental and physical toughness to be a dominant stopper. A few others I’d be interested in seeing play include former linebacker middle Jeremiah Trotter, and how about [Pro Football Hall Of Fame receiver] Terrell Owens? Imagine him playing SlamBall. I bet right now he would be able to come out and play this sport at a high level with a lot of physicality.
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) January 3, 2019
You’re an accomplished magician. Do you see any sleight of hand out here with any of these guys?
Magic is based on that misdirection and controlling people’s attention, just like a play-action pass in football. It’s misdirection to get you to go one way while I come here and do another.
Watching [Slashers handler/gunner Tony] Crosby, you see the little look-offs, the fake passes, the no-looks, and all that is misdirection to set up an offensive play. That’s all magic, and it’s cool to watch.
ESPN’s Chris Connelly profiled Dorenbos for Sunday NFL Countdown in 2019