• February 4, 2020

Published on | Read the full article here.

Editor’s Note: The below story was written on January 31. On February 2, John Lovett and the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV with a 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers!

The defining picture of Princeton’s 10-0 football season in 2018 came after the Tigers defeated Penn to close the perfect year. It was a picture of John Lovett, the man as much responsible for the Tigers’ domination as anyone, surrounded by joyful teammates, holding up the Ivy League championship trophy.

That was how his most recent football season ended. His current one could end with another trophy, this one the Lombardi Trophy.

Lovett is currently in Miami with his Kansas City Chiefs teammates as they prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. The only two-time Bushnell Cup winner in Princeton football history has been on the winning side a lot in the last few years, and he’s looking to be part of the absolute pinnacle of the sport this time.

“This is amazing,” Lovett said from the team hotel Friday afternoon. “This is just such an incredible experience, and I’m so blessed to be a part of it. My parents are here, and it’s great to be able to share it with them. They’ve done so much for me and who have allowed me to chase this dream.”

Technically Lovett’s current season ended shortly after it got started. After leading Princeton the Ivy League title in 2016 and 2018 as a quarterback – and missing the 2017 season due to injury – he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chiefs and then made an immediate name for himself in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and training camp as a tight end/fullback/special teams/general athlete hybrid who could be used in any number of roles.

Then, in the first preseason game, he suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on the injured reserve list, which meant he would be unable to play this season. He would go on to rehab his shoulder, and absorb everything else he could.

“I spent a lot of time working on my body, getting as strong and fast and ready to go as I could,” he says. “I also went to every meeting. I’ve learned so much from the veterans. Travis Kelce [the Chiefs’ tight end] was a quarterback in college too. I just picked everybody’s brains. Anthony Sherman is a long-time veteran fullback. He’s been very helpful to me. It’s been a chance to learn from a future Hall-of-Fame coach too. Andy Reid is one of the greatest offensive minds ever in football. I took a lot of notes all year.”

The Chiefs, of course, don’t need a quarterback, not with NFL MVP Pat Mahomes – “He’s a great guy and a great leader; i can’t say enough good things about him,” Lovett says – not even in his prime quite yet. They can definitely use Lovett’s versatility, though next year isn’t quite on anyone’s mind this weekend.

“I thought I was doing a good job before I got hurt,” he says. “It’s been a great opportunity here this year to just learn from these guys though. You grow up idolizing NFL players, and then you find out they’re no different than anyone else. These guys feel just short last year in the AFC championship game, and they’ve been really hungry ever since the first OTAs.”

In addition to the Chiefs, Lovett kept close tabs on his former Princeton receivers Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted, both of whom worked their way from the practice squad to the active roster with a touchdown reception for each before the year ended, as well as the current Tigers, especially his quarterback replacement, Kevin Davidson.

“I wasn’t surprised Stephen and Jesper were ready when they got their chance,” Lovett says. “I was really proud of them. And I was so happy to see the season that Kevin had. He stayed the course for his career and when his time came, he was ready to excel. I’m excited to see how his career continues.”

For now, he’s just happy to be part of the Super Bowl. He, with the rest of the players on the practice squad and IR, will be in the stands during the game, hoping to celebrate when it ends.

“This whole ride has been amazing,” he says. “The season, the playoffs. I’m so fortunate to have been a part of it. This is just wild, being here in Miami, in this five-star hotel, getting ready for the game. I’m enjoying every second of it.”