Life After the NFL, as Told by a Former Quarterback

Life After the NFL, as Told by a Former Quarterback

Garrard retired last year.

SourceCourtesy of David Garrard

Why you should care

Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

David Garrard
Former Jaguars quarterback
Jacksonville, Florida

My day has been great. Got a lot of sweating in. I’m working out a lot less than I did in the NFL, but I’m still working out at least four times a week. You’re doing something just about every day in the NFL; you’re on the field or practicing. What motivates me is being 38 years old and remembering how I looked when I was in my 20s. It’s been harder to maintain that physique since I retired in May 2015.

There’s a flag football league in the area — it is absolutely not intense, but I play in it as a way to stay around some guys, to stay around the game. I don’t play quarterback, that wouldn’t be fair. I play receiver. I have a knack for that. I’ve always felt I had pretty good hands. I played tight end in middle school. My arm was always just a little better.

People always want to know what it was like playing in the NFL. It’s everything you can imagine. You’re recognized everywhere you go. If you’re a person who likes the spotlight, it is a dream come true. In restaurants, they put you right to the top of the list. I think there’s an obligation for athletes to be philanthropic, though. For most athletes, we don’t get to make money in high school and college. There has to be someone who backed you and people who picked you up from practice, all that kind of stuff. It’s important to give back.

David garrard 2

Hot dog! Garrard at his gym.

Source Courtesy of David Garrard

I still talk with quite a few guys I played with. We’ll go golfing or get a bite to eat. They’re guys who experienced some of the things I experienced, guys I sweat and bled with.

Oh yeah, I play fantasy football. I have three leagues, actually. When I was pro, people came up and wanted to know how I was feeling. They wanted me to play well for them to get more numbers. I was like, “I don’t play fantasy, I play real football.” But now I play fantasy and I’ve got my fantasy picks. I always feel like you should get a really good quarterback, like Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, they’re very consistent. So I never look at players and say, “I need big numbers.” They’ve got enough pressure to win their game.

When I think back on my career, there are probably a dozen plays that stick out. It’s usually the bigger plays, the bigger games that I remember. To be honest, you definitely remember more negatives. That’s how we’re wired to think. But nowadays my thoughts are on the good plays in my career. You never get ’em back, you know? And when I walk around town a lot of people remind me of the plays they loved.

The physical and mental toll go hand in hand. I started playing when I was 7 years old, and I played for 25 years. I’ve been getting tackled my whole life; I’ve hit the ground so many times. With anything, things can get old.

When you’re young in the NFL, the sky’s the limit. Everything’s in front of you; you can’t wait to hit all these marks in your career. Then you have family and kids. You still have to win, but all you want is to see your son play a sport himself, or to go home for Thanksgiving and be with your family, not be off in Dallas playing at 3:30 p.m.

Knowing when to retire is different for everyone. If you start thinking you should retire, you should retire right then. But let me tell you, when you do, and you’re out of the game, you immediately wish you were back in it.


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