A follow-up physical on New Orleans Saints long snapper Jon Dorenbos may have saved the 37-year-old’s life.
Dorenbos was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm that will require immediate open-heart surgery.
New Orleans traded a seventh-round pick in 2019 to Philadelphia for the 15-year veteran last week, and Dr. John Amoss was going through the long snapper’s second physical when he discovered the problem.
“This is a pretty serious condition,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Dr. Amoss is the one that discovered it and basically saved his life with the findings. He’s had further tests and evaluations, and we met twice yesterday. Certainly, news like this is a big alert for him.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, an aortic aneurysm is a weakened area in the upper part of the aorta, the major blood vessel feeding blood to the body. An aneurysm can lead to a tear in the arterial wall that can lead to life-threatening bleeding.
Dorenbos, who has been in New Orleans for a week, has been getting to know his new teammates and preparing for the season.
The news hit everybody hard.
“I saw him get the call from the doctor,” Saints punter Thomas Morstead said. “We saw his jaw drop a little bit, and we didn’t know what was going on. … Scary, for sure.”
Morstead, unlike a lot of the Saints, has known Dorenbos for years.
Payton indicated that Dorenbos’s aortic aneurysm was genetic.
Unlike defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who faced a recommendation from a doctor that the changing condition of his enlarged heart end his football career but also faced conflicting opinions from other doctors, Dorenbos’ situation is an immediate problem that must be corrected by surgery.
“Obviously, it’s one of those things where you have a couple of different emotions about it,” Morstead said. “It’s obviously tough for him. Scary. Probably fortunate that he was traded, because they found it, so it saved his life.”
From a football standpoint, the Saints will be working on their sixth long snapper when they take the field on Monday Night Football. New Orleans worked out long snappers Friday, and Justin Drescher’s not eligible to return because he negotiated an injury settlement with New Orleans after the final preseason game.
“Game’s on Monday, we’ll be ready,” Morstead said. “Happened seven years ago with Justin Drescher, tried out on a Monday, played on a Thursday and we got a win. Hopefully we’ll have a smooth transition like that.”
Dorenbos will be placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, joining Fairley, whose own heart condition may force him to give up football.
The trade with Philadelphia will also likely be rescinded, according to Payton, who cited the fact Dorenbos has a pre-existing condition.
“That will handle itself,” Payton said.
Morstead and kicker Wil Lutz said the Saints special teams will have to function with a new snapper on the fly.
“This is when you’re tested most,” Lutz said. “You’ve got to take it and run with it. You’ve got to find a way to get the job done. Once we figure out whoever it is, we’ll get it going. We’ll have a couple days to kind of start jelling and go from there.”
A beloved figure in Philadelphia with two Pro Bowls on his rèsumè, Dorenbos is also an accomplished magician who finished third on the 11th season of America’s Got Talent.
Dorenbos, who could tell that the Eagles were looking to get younger at his position during training camp, had been elated to go to New Orleans with a chance to extend his career, and the trade may have ended up saving his life.
“There’s a blessing to it, in some regards,” Payton said. “Finding an aneurysm this size, it’s something that will require immediate surgery, and credit Dr. Amoss. He was the first one that caught the red flag.”
SEP 8, 2017 – 9:25 AM