Former Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos had no intention of retiring from the NFL in the fall. After being traded, the 37-year-old was ready to suit up for the New Orleans Saints. However, during a routine physical for his new team, doctors discovered he had an aortic aneurysm, which forced him to undergo immediate open-heart surgery, and retire from the game he loves.

“This is a pretty serious condition and not only will it require open-heart surgery, it’s going to require it pretty quickly,” Sean Payton told The Times-Picayune. “Dr. (John) Amoss is the one that discovered it and basically saved his life with his findings.”

It was fantastic news that they found the genetic condition in time, but retiring so suddenly after 15 years in the NFL was devastating for Dorenbos.

Because Dorenbos dedicated 11 years to the Eagles and was a consummate professional, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie invited him to Minneapolis to watch the big game and told him he’d be receiving a Super Bowl ring.

“Had I played, I’d die. If you can’t play in it, this is the next best way to enjoy it,” Dorenbos told The New Orleans Advocate. “[Eagles’ owner] Mr. Lurie called me and said he wants me to be a part of it, said I was here a long time, and he said ‘We’re going to win this, and you’re going to get a ring.'”

Following surgery, Dorenbos didn’t keep up with the NFL much due to a difficult recovery, but as the season neared its end, he saw his former team on a roll and entering the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder.

That’s when he got the invite from Lurie.

“I got to experience it from a fan perspective,” Dorenbos said. “Jeff’s like, hey, we’ve got this event, it’s like 100, 150 people, just trust me, come, so we went. Next thing I know, there’s Sheryl Crow.”

So, while he didn’t get to play on the world’s largest stage, he got something even better: The gift of life. And, a little bling to accompany his years of hard work.