As a kid, Rick Lovato was a fine pitcher and a good passer, but he was always too big to play quarterback. His teams needed him on the offensive line.
Lovato knew he'd be too light to play lineman in the NFL, so he took his big frame and strong arm and become a long-snapper. Now 6-2 and 249 pounds, Lovato replaced magical fan favorite Jon Dorenbos at the end of 2016. Then, in 2017, he made some magic of his own. He fired the snap for the 61-yard field goal that beat the Giants in Game 3, which started the nine-game winning streak, and he fired the snap for the field goal that iced the Eagles' win at Super Bowl LII.
His is the ultimate underdog story on a roster full of unlikely heroes. Undrafted out of Old Dominion in 2015, Lovato was cut after training camp by the Bears but latched on later that season with Green Bay. The Packers cut him after training camp in 2016, but Washington hired him for two weeks. He spent the last three weeks of 2016 with the Eagles, then made the team in 2017.
In between, Lovato — a wrestler by lineage — worked at his father's sub shop in Lincroft, N.J., where he retained his love of skateboarding, his hyper-flexibility, and the ability to perform "the pancake." Lovato chatted recently with Marcus Hayes about his many interests and talents, and answered the question he gets asked all the time about singer Demi Lovato.
No, no relation. But, you know, everyone asks that. I'd always wished it, but lately I don't wish it, because of all that she's been dealing with. (After an apparent overdose last month, the pop singer told fans on Instagram she is taking time out to heal and focus on her recovery and sobriety.)
Ever since Tony Romo mentioned me being her husband last year (in the CBS Thursday night broadcast) against Carolina, it's been a thing where everyone asks me: 'You guys in a relationship? You guys cousins, or what?' But I do want to meet her.
Kevin Malone is actually my favorite character on the show. His demeanor, how he acts.
I did gymnastics when I was 10 years old — only for one year, but that really helped me with my whole stretching background. … You also need to be very flexible in wrestling. I wrestled from when I was 5 years old until my junior year in high school, when I decided football was the sport I would focus on.
My dad (Rick Sr.) was a state champion at my high school (1980, New Jersey, Middletown High School South), and my cousin Glenn Pritzlaff was a three-time state champion at my high school (1992-94) and a national champion at Penn State (1999).
I took yoga classes in college (at Old Dominion). I was always the most flexible player on every team. I've never cramped once in football. I can actually do the 'V' with my legs and touch my forehead to the ground. They called it the "pancake" when I was doing gymnastics.
No, no. If I jump on a board I just cruise around. I'm not ollie-ing off five stairs, or whatever.
I can still kick flip and all that stuff. I just do flat-ground stuff. I don't want anything to go wrong right now. I don't ski. I don't snowboard.
Oh, yeah. I actually got to visit (four-time X-Games gold medalist) Paul Rodriguez this offseason. He lives out in LA. His girlfriend knows my girlfriend. They invited us out.
When I got there he said, 'Hey, we going to skate?' and I was like, 'Hey, let's go!' And he's doing all his tricks — I actually have some film from that day — and I'm just sitting there, watching him do his thing as a professional, and comparing it to how I live my life as a professional.
I'm like, 'Wow. This guy's no joke. He's not going out there to just skate. He's going out there to get something done. He's working to the best of his ability.' It was a really cool experience.