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Feb 01, 2017

Lincroft’s Rick Lovato Ends Season with Eagles

By Les Pierce

The long snapper is one of the unsung heroes of football.  Absolute perfection is the minimum requirement of the player responsible for delivering the ball quickly and accurately to the punter or field goal holder. The long snapper toils with the knowledge that there is no recognition to be had. In spite of the absence of accolades, Lincroft resident Rick Lovato Jr. has pursued that position in the NFL for two seasons and has rostered with four teams.

Lovato was a four-year starter at Old Dominion University and named All-American. He went undrafted, but was signed as a free agent by the Chicago Bears in May 2015. However, he was released just before the regular season began.

Four months later, in December, he was signed by the Green Bay Packers to replace Brett Goode, who had been sidelined with a knee injury. Lovato played the last two regular season and two playoff games with the Packers and remained on the roster over the ensuing months. Goode, a nine-year veteran, returned healthy in 2016 to reclaim his position and Lovato was released in September 2016.

Just two months later, he was called up by the Washington Redskins. He was brought on to replace Nick Sundberg for two games after Sundberg incurred a minor injury during practice.  Ironically, his first game as a Redskin was against the Packers, his former teammates.

Obviously, Lovato is on the radar screen for many NFL squads, as he got a call from the Philadelphia Eagles less than two weeks after being released by the Redskins. He was signed on December 12 to replace the injured Jon Dorenbos, a two-time pro bowler who had suffered a broken wrist. Lovato played the final two games with Philadelphia, but the Eagles did not qualify for postseason playoffs. He currently remains on the roster.

The Eagles ended their season with a 27-13 win over Dallas on January 1.  Lovato lost no time in his quest to improve his skills, promptly attending a pair of camps in the two weeks that followed. He returned from his second camp in Arizona, flying into Newark Liberty on the evening of January 14, and was picked up by his dad, Rick Sr. The following morning, father and son made their way to the field behind Nut Swamp School, cleared off the inch of snow that had fallen the night before, and conducted a 30-minute practice. The senior Lovato acts as the holder in a half-hour ritual they pursue six to seven times a week.

The younger Lovato reflected on his experiences with the NFL, stating, “Playing in the NFL has been a life-changing experience. The ups and downs of playing are what make the game of football worthwhile. My passion for playing football and long snapping began at a young age and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this time in my life. My job in the NFL is often overlooked, but it is an art. Striving for perfection is what has motivated me to be the best I can be at my position. Long snapping has given me more opportunities in life then I could’ve ever imagined and it has helped me fulfill a lifelong dream of playing at the highest level the sport has to offer.”

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