Bengals’ David Pollack is ‘Man of Christ’
David Pollack refers to Feb. 8 as “D-Day” in terms of his possible return to the NFL as a player.
“I should have all the details that I need to make an informed decision,” said Pollack, a linebacker who last played football Sept. 17, 2006, for the Bengals against Cleveland. That afternoon, Pollack suffered a C6 vertebra fracture. He underwent surgery Jan. 3, 2007, to repair the neck fracture.
Dr. Anthony Guanciale, director of orthopedic spine surgery at University of Cincinnati Hospital, has treated Pollack from the day of his injury, performing surgery a year ago, and will meet with him next month.
In the meantime, Pollack, back up to his playing weight of 250 to 255 pounds, is working as a trainer at the Ignition group in Mason. He is instructing and training with 11 NFL hopefuls, including four players from the University of Cincinnati, and leading Bible study for them on Wednesday nights at his Liberty Township home.
Pollack, now 25, was the 17th overall draft pick by the Bengals in 2005 out of Georgia. He played in 16 games with six starts in three NFL seasons. After the injury, he was fitted with a protective halo and then a neck brace.
These days, he is bouncing around Ignition and the adjacent Wall2Wall soccer facility in Mason.
He performs strength, agility and speed drills with the college players who are preparing for the NFL scouting combine or their pro-day workouts. He sprints with a parachute tethered to his back.
“I always hoped I would be stronger than where I am now,” Pollack said during a break in his workout. “The day I got out of the neck brace I did (bench-pressed) 135 (pounds) seven times.”
“I think I went into full-body seizure, contracting, dying, but since I’ve been up here at Ignition I’ve done 225 (pounds) 22 times (repetitions),” Pollack added.
Still, D-Day lies ahead.
“I will want to take some time, though, to fast and pray and spend time by myself a lot and try to figure out where God is leading me,” he said. “If it closes one chapter, it opens another.”
If Pollack decides to retire as a player, his first move will be to return to Georgia to finish his undergraduate degree in history.
“I would want to be able to tell my kids to get an education,” he said. “It’s not going to be fun. I’m not a fan of school.”
Lindsey Pollack, an elementary school teacher, is 10 weeks pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Pollack worked as a commentator for CBS’ pregame show for Southeastern Conference football broadcasts last season. Broadcasting is a goal if he can’t play.
“I love to talk,” he said. “I’ve always loved to talk.”
He might coach. Bright and outgoing, Pollack has many options.
If he is cleared to play, Pollack wants to play defensive end – not outside linebacker. He did both in college and was able to put on the extra weight to play on the line.
“Hands down, absolutely,” he said. “At linebacker, you have a lot of 5-yard collisions, where the fullback has a head start and a head-on collision. If you’re at defensive end, very rarely do you have a hard collision. You’re 6 inches in front of your target and firing off and hitting your target right there. I’ve made that pretty clear. Special teams would be something I wouldn’t be able to do.
“There are things that, if I get to come back, would be limitations. Defensive end definitely makes a lot more sense.”
Pollack and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis remain close personally and in frequent contact.
“We were (text-messaging) this morning for about five minutes,” Pollack said. “I’ve told him (of the desire to play defensive end) from the beginning. I have talked about that with him. He is a phenomenal guy. I love Coach Lewis.”
Pollack, dressed in an orange Under Armour T-shirt, lugs a gallon jug of water during workouts.
He has made an impression on the college players. One is Southern Illinois quarterback Nick Hill.
“Having him here every day makes things – if you’re having a bad day – he has all the energy in the world and keeps us going,” Hill said. “When you think it’s all about football, he keeps us focused on the things that are the most important in life. He went through a really bad injury, but he handled it better than anyone else could.”
Clif Marshall, performance director at Ignition, a Christian-oriented facility, used Pollack’s name as an instructor when recruiting college athletes to train there.
“There are guys who put faith into their sports training,” Marshall said. “The credibility he brings as an athlete and a first-round pick is one thing. He also is here as a man in Christ.”
The experiences of the past two years have changed Pollack.
“I’ve always been running around. The Bible verse I always think about is: Be still and know that I am God. I’ve never been still in my life,” Pollack said. “I have had time to sit back. It has been a rewarding experience. It’s hard to explain how breaking your neck can make you better.
“I have learned a lot about myself and my wife. I am domestic now, which is crazy. Football players are selfish people. We think we work so hard and have the hardest job in the world. It’s just not true. I had to step out of the box to figure that out.
“Now, I come over here to train, and before I leave I put a load of laundry in. Then I go home and clean and do the dishes. I am more rounded. I help my wife out more. I am a more patient person.”