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From The Pizza Shop To The Pros: How Rick Lovato's Family Helped Make His Dream A Reality

Posted Aug 29, 2017

The new era at the long snapper position for the Eagles begins with Middletown, New Jersey native and former family restaurant hand Rick Lovato.

As recently as last year, Lovato was working at the Joyce’s Subs and Pizza restaurant owned by his father and uncle-in-law located just a short drive from the town where he grew up. His family sold the spot a few weeks ago, but Lovato’s time at Joyce’s was instrumental in shaping his work ethic.

“He made subs, he made pizzas, cleaned floors. He did everything that was needed to do in that store,” said his father, Rick Lovato Sr. “He was very young when we opened it, so he had to wait a couple of years before he was able to start working. But as soon as he was in high school and he had some free time he helped out whenever he could.”

The younger Lovato replaces beloved long snapper and fan-favorite Jon Dorenbos, who was traded Monday night to the New Orleans Saints for a seventh-round draft pick in 2019. Lovato filled in for Dorenbos during the final three games of the 2016 season after Dorenbos suffered a wrist injury. The Eagles had seen enough and felt confident in moving forward with Lovato.

“He called last night and was very excited,” Lovato Sr. said. “He said, ‘Jon’s been traded. I am the new long snapper for the Eagles.’ So we were all pretty darn excited about that.”

Prior to earning the Eagles gig, Lovato spent brief stints with the Bears, Packers, and Redskins, snapping in nine games, including two playoff games with the Packers. Lovato Sr. credited his wife, Maureen, for their son’s long snapping skills.

“She took him to every single camp that she could locally and he just got better and better and just went on from there,” Lovato Sr. said. “He was still performing at a very high level and we said, ‘Hey, you might have a shot,’ and sure enough he’s proved himself the last few years.”

Once Lovato’s pro football career began he still found time to help out at the restaurant and at some point during the day to take snaps with his dad.

“In between all the gigs, I was still snapping with him. I snapped with him every day and I’ve got the scars to prove it,” Lovato Sr. laughed. “A sprained thumb, dislocated knuckles, just things like that. All of those injuries I wore with pride but I would never let him know. It was a lot of fun.”

Since Lovato joined the Eagles, the family has yet to miss a game. Thursday’s matchup against the Jets will be no different as they plan to head up to MetLife Stadium.

“All of a sudden, I’ve been getting a thousand texts about people wanting to go up,” Lovato Sr. said. “So we might have to have a little tailgate party.”

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