Grayson Local contributor Ryan Brooks recently got together with University of Georgia legend David Pollack for a wide-ranging interview. Pollack, who now serves as an analyst on the popular College GameDay program on ESPN, talks about life, lessons, and the most memorable play of his career.
Ryan Brooks: David – first off thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with me. We understand that you’re a busy man.
I want to take you back to your high school days as a Shiloh General. Seeing that we played together under a great coach Charlie Jordan, tell us about who you were as a kid and what Coach Jordan and his staff did that helped you develop as a player and young man.
David Pollack: I grew up participating in the Shiloh Youth Association and began playing youth football at the age of six (6). As you get older things change, coaches’ change, your body changes and you play different positions. However, one coach that had the biggest impact in my life regarding football and becoming a man was Eddie Shaddix.
After my sophmore year, I went to my coaches and advised them that I was not going to play football anymore – I didn’t feel like it was for me. Coach Shaddix had confidence and faith in me, and didn’t want me to make any rash decisions. He took me under his wing, worked out with me, and convinced me to see what the upcoming year brought. He worked with me on and off the field, and forever changed my life. Football became something that I loved, but the relationship with Coach Shaddix was life-changing.
RB: After Shiloh, you spent your college days tearing through SEC offensive lines as one of the most decorated and well-remembered Georgia Bulldogs, arguably of all-time. Tell us about your time at UGA. What was your most memorable moment as a Bulldog? Was it the ever-famous end zone strip at Carolina?
DP: My most memorable play was the interception against SC. If I attempted that play again, it would never happen! One of the missed facts about that play is that the coaches talked to us consistently about separation, consistently teaching us to focus on certain keys in a game that help success. On that play, I had three (3) wide receivers to my side and an offset running back, so I was 90% sure it was a roll out pass. Before the play started I had a idea of what was coming, so I widened out a yard in my stance and I played the roll out pass. The rest is history.
RB: Mark Richt will likely go down as one of the great coaches in UGA football history. Can you share something that you learned from him outside of football that you’ll carry with you for life?
DP: I think Coach Richt did a great job in teaching his players perspective. He wanted you to compete and be great, but he also understood that football isn’t what defines a man.
RB: Take us back to September 17, 2006 against the Cleveland Browns. Tell us about the play when your injury occurred. What was your recovery like, and how you were able to persevere through that time?
DP: It was a play that I have seen and been through a thousand times – though obviously not with the same end result. I took a ton of hits in my football career, and many were a lot harder than the one that broke my neck.
It was a freak accident; literally in the blink of an eye, in one play everything I had worked for since the age of six (6) was gone. Within twenty-four (24) hours I had surgery and was placed in a halo for four (4) months, then cervical surgery and a neck brace for six (6) months.
Football was always something that I did, but I learned that it did not define the man that I was. I knew at some point I would be hanging my cleats up, but I never dreamed or imagined that play would be my last, and that day would be my last day in a uniform. The Bible displays many examples of people going through hardships and hard times in life; this was obviously my biggest test in my life.
RB: Fast Forward a few years. As your media career began to develop, what were some of the emotions you felt starting something new? What was it like to come onboard College GameDay?
DP: I never thought I would be a part of the media. When I heard the word media, I didn’t always have the most positive and pleasant experiences attached to it. In 2008, my family and I moved back to Atlanta and I began doing local radio which lead to a local Fox TV show.
That experience was exciting to me, in that I was able to take a passion of mine since the age of six (6) and turn it into a life’s career. Sitting on the GameDay set for the first time was surreal. After watching the show for so many years becoming a part of such a college football tradition is more than I can even put into words. I am blessed to be a part of such a great tradition.
RB: Give us an inside look at the Pollack household. What values do you try to instill in your kids that you’ve learned throughout your journey?
DP: My wife, Lindsey and I have been together since we were teenagers. She is the best, most complete package of a women I have ever met. We have a lot of fun; we can be silly and serious because she is hyper-adult and I am hyper-child, a match made in heaven.
We have two children, Nicholas (8) and Leah (6). Nicholas has energy to the 36th power; he enjoys playing football, basketball and baseball. He is nonstop, a kid that is one cool cat. Leah enjoys life to the fullest; she loves to sing, play being a school teacher, play being a mommy. She also enjoys playing softball and being the center of attention.
As a family we make it a point to put God first in our lives, attending church regularly, praying with our kids, teaching them about the Bible and what God has given us to learn about life. We are very firm in teaching our kids manners, respect, and discipline. Our philosophy is, no matter what you are doing in life, giving your best is always required. You will not always be the best, but giving your best is a key to success.
RB: Recently you started the Pollack Family Foundation. What is the PFF is centered on, and how can people from the community get involved?
DP: The Pollack Family Foundation was created because Lindsey and I have great passion for being healthy. We see that the one of the biggest reasons people fail in becoming healthy is the lack of education on eating properly, exercising and what those two things should look like in your lives and the lives of your families. We have a great website, Pollack Family Foundation.com, where people can go to learn more about the foundation and its mission.
RB: Last question – as you get older and wiser, what hopes do you have for you and your family’s future?
DP: For my family’s future, I pray that we are always extremely close, have tons of fun together, always share each other’s burdens, trust in one another and believe in one another. We are not going to be perfect, but hopefully we will always be there for each other in good times, bad times, happy times and weak times.