Rick Lovato

Eagles Stay or Go — Vocal leader and key special teamers

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Eagles Stay or Go — Vocal leader and key special teamers

Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro continue our series examining the future of the world champion Eagles.

Chris Long
Roob:
 It didn't take long for Long to make an impact on his new team, both on the field and off. Long was a vocal leader and impact-making third defensive end for the Super Bowl champs, not to mention very active along with close friend Malcolm Jenkins in various social causes in the community and also back in Charlottesville, Va. Long is under contract for one more year with a relatively modest $2.35 million cap hit. Great guy to have around.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: It turns out Long was right. The Eagles' 4-3 defense did suit him pretty well. At 32 years old, Long played 48 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps, had five sacks and four forced fumbles. Four forced fumbles! That's the most FF any Eagle has had since Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham both did it in 2014. Long really seemed to fit the team and the city. It was a good signing. He does have a cap number over $2.3 million this upcoming season, so there might be a decision to make. But he still has value. 

Verdict: STAYS

Rick Lovato 
Roob: Lovato quietly had a very steady year as the Eagles' first long snapper not named Jon Dorenbos since Mike Bartrum. The 25-year-old Central Jersey native had brief stints with the Bears, Packers and Redskins before replacing an injured Dorenbos briefly in 2016. Lovato and Dorenbos both got Super Bowl rings this year, which must not happen too often. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: One of the big upsets of last summer was Lovato's beating out Dorenbos for the long snapper job. Everyone thought Dorenbos was going to come back from his wrist injury and coast, but Lovato beat him out before the Eagles decided to try to move Dorenbos to the Saints. Lovato had a fine season. He's not going back to his family's sandwich shop yet. 

Verdict: STAYS

Chris Maragos
Roob: 
Kind of a tricky one. You know the Eagles like to stay young on special teams, and Maragos, now 31, is really a player without a position, although he can play safety in an emergency. If Maragos is healthy coming off the season-ending knee injury he suffered against the Panthers, he'll get a shot in camp. But the Eagles could save $1.5 million under the cap by releasing him. It would be tough to see him go, but my guess is the Eagles will get younger and cheaper and try to develop a young backup safety who can also play on special teams.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Maragos is coming off a serious injury, but would the Eagles consider cutting him once he's healthy? Well, you could make that case. Maragos has a cap number of $2 million this season and the team could save $1.5 in cap room by cutting him. It might be a decent idea, but they're not going to cut him until he's healthy and by that point, Howie Roseman will have already worked his magic to get the Eagles under the cap. And Maragos is a big part of the team. It meant so much to him to be named one of the captains last year and he still made his presence felt even after he couldn't play. He has at least one year left in Philly. 

Verdict: STAYS 

Rick Lovato explains why he got a huge Lombardi Trophy tattoo

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Rick Lovato

Rick Lovato explains why he got a huge Lombardi Trophy tattoo

After the Eagles beat the Patriots, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII, there will be a Vince Lombardi Trophy living in Philadelphia permanently. 

There will also be one on Rick Lovato forever. 

On Wednesday, the Eagles' long snapper tweeted out a photo of some new ink, a huge Lombardi Trophy on the left side of his torso. Lovato isn't the only Eagles player or fan to get a tattoo after the Super Bowl, but it looks like his tattoo might be one of the biggest. 

On Thursday, Lovato went back on Twitter to explain why he decided to get the trophy tattooed on himself. 

Two years ago, in April of 2016, Lovato visited the grave of Vince Lombardi, which happens to be in his hometown of Middletown, N.J. He said that's also where his grandfather is buried. 

"I still pray and thank Coach Lombardi to this day because of how my life has changed since the day I visited his grave," Lovato explained in his tweet. 

A couple months before Lovato's visit, MMQB's Jenny Vrentas took a trip to Mount Olivet Cemetery to learn a little bit about the legendary coach's unassuming grave.

When Lovato visited Lombardi's final resting place, the long snapper was still playing for the Packers. After a college career at Old Dominion, Lovato spent that first summer with the Bears but didn't make the team and wasn't signed by the Packers until December of 2015 when their long-snapper suffered an injury. 

Lovato spent the rest of the season with the Packers and was with them for the next whole spring and summer. But just a few months after his visit to the cemetery, he was released. 

During the 2016 season, he was signed by Washington to fill in for 10 days before he was again cut. Lovato was back working at his family's restaurant, "Joyce's Subs and Pizza" in Lincroft, N.J. after that, but Jon Dorenbos got hurt and the Eagles needed a replacement. Lovato did a good enough job at the end of last season to warrant a position battle this past summer. He won the competition and was the Eagles' long snapper in their Super Bowl season. 

It seems like the tattoo is a reward for finally making it to the pinnacle. 

Here's Lovato's full explanation of his new ink and what it means to him: 

"For those who want some more background on my tattoo, 2 years ago I visited Vince Lombardi's grave in my hometown of Middletown, NJ where my grandfather is buried. Not having a full time job in the NFL yet and not knowing where this career would take me, I trusted my passion and faith to keep reaching my dreams. Since then I was cut two more times and could've given up on those dreams, but it made me want it more than ever. After a heated battle with my friend Jon Dorenbos in training camp I had finally found my place in this league. Through the ups and the downs of my first full season in the NFL, I have fulfilled my dream of playing and winning the Super Bowl. It has brought me more joy in my life than I could've ever imagined. I still pray and thank Coach Lombardi to this day because of how my life has changed since the day I visited his grave. This tattoo means much more than just winning a Super Bowl. It represents my journey, everyone who's supported me and my faith in God." 

Eagles held 'fake walkthrough' pre-Super Bowl in case Patriots spied

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USA Today Images

Eagles held 'fake walkthrough' pre-Super Bowl in case Patriots spied

While the Patriots claim their spying days are behind them, the Eagles weren’t taking any chances. Apparently, they ran a "fake" practice before the Super Bowl, just in case anybody was watching.

At least that’s what Eagles long snapper Rick Lovato told a Tampa radio station this week, via ProFootballTalk. When the team convened for its Saturday walkthrough at U.S. Bank Stadium, there were a few too many unfamiliar faces around the building for Pederson’s liking.

So the Eagles ran a dummy practice instead.

“I believe our whole walkthrough was just a complete fake walkthrough,” Lovato said. “We did it at the stadium. There were certain people walking around.

“I believe I overheard someone say a lot of the plays we were running weren’t even in the playbook for the Super Bowl.”

Interesting if true. First, a bit of history.

The Patriots notoriously got into hot water in 2007 for illegally videotaping their opponents’ defensive signals over a period of eight years as part of a scandal known as Spygate. However, there are also allegations New England filmed opponents’ practices and/or walkthroughs prior to at least two Super Bowls during that period. If true, that’s a much larger breach, as such videos would reveal huge aspects of a opponent's otherwise secret game plan beforehand. It's not implausible due to the teams working at neutral sites.

The NFL destroyed all evidence after its investigation, so we may never know. Regardless, between Spygate and the more recent Deflategate controversy, the Patriots have been branded as cheaters.

The Eagles practiced at the University of Minnesota for most of the week leading up to Super Bowl LII, naturally with the assurance of complete discretion. Yet, it’s not uncommon for teams to take the field at the sight of the big game at least once before kickoff. Given the Patriots also had access to the same stadium, taking every caution was probably wise.

Lovato’s choice of words should be noted here. As a specialist, he wasn’t necessarily alerted to the entire team’s practice details, and admits to overhearing the walkthrough was fake.

Then again, years after losing in Super Bowl XXXIX, the 2004-05 Eagles were one of those teams that claimed the Patriots may have known more than Spygate suggests.

Whether or not double agents were crawling all over the place in Minnesota last weekend, nobody would blame the Eagles for taking the extra step to ensure no such controversy would happen again.