For the first time, a Monarch will be playing in the Super Bowl.
Rick Lovato, a 2015 Old Dominion University graduate, will be the long snapper for the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
“Great kid, great family,” said ODU President John R. Broderick, who has conflicting loyalties because he grew up in Connecticut and attended Northeastern University in Boston. “We texted the other night, and I told him I will still root for the Patriots, but for the Eagles to be successful on all of his snaps.”
Lovato told The Virginian-Pilot last week: “I can’t even grasp that this is happening. I’ve dreamed about playing in the Super Bowl all my life.”
Lovato said he still talks with some of his former ODU coaches. “I’m proud to represent Old Dominion. I’m grateful for what so many people there did for me.”
Lovato’s job is to snap the ball before punts, field goals or extra point attempts. He described the experience this way in an article in Monarch magazine last year: “You’re bent over, looking between your legs, and blood rushes to your head. And behind the punter or the field goal holder, you can see what looks like the entire stadium, wondering if you’ll make a mistake.
“You just have to block all that out and focus on your job.”
Lovato was a defensive end in high school but switched to long snapping his junior year to get more playing time. He continued in that position during his time at Old Dominion.
“There are many college football programs that have never had an alumnus play in the biggest sporting event of the year,” said Wood Selig, Old Dominion’s athletic director. “Yet after just nine seasons of football, ODU will be represented by Rick on football’s biggest stage. All of us at ODU wish Rick and the Eagles well.”
Lovato also was the first ODU graduate to play for an NFL team. But the Eagles weren’t his first – or even his second – team.
The Green Bay Packers picked him up in 2015. They cut him in 2016. Lovato was called up by the Washington Redskins later that year as an injury replacement. They released him after two games, but he finished the 2016-17 season with the Eagles.
And he’s been snapping for them ever since.
“Rick Lovato is an incredible story of character and the will to succeed,” said Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion’s head football coach. “He came to Old Dominion on a partial scholarship and earned a full scholarship with outstanding performance on and off the field. He was a great teammate in every way possible.”
Lovato, Wilder said, has held true to his values: “To see how he has handled success has been a tribute to Rick and his family, and we are all very proud to see Rick become the first-ever Monarch to play in the Super Bowl.”