For former UGA star David Pollack, church attendance is non-negotiable


ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Christy Mathewson, who led the New York Giants to their first world series in 1906, refused to play baseball on Sunday because of his Christian faith. In the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Eric Liddell declined to run in the heats for his favored 100 meters because they were held on Sunday.

In the 21st Century the Lord’s Day is not honored as in past centuries. However, David Pollack is expressing a refreshing view regarding the importance of keeping Sunday as a day of worship and praise.

Pollock was the featured guest at First Baptist Church in Alpharetta on Sunday, April 23, and was interviewed by Pastor Steve Browning in both morning worship services.

Pollack is a four-time All-American football player for the University of Georgia and is currently an ESPN College GameDay analyst.  In 2006, Pollack was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals as the 17th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. In his second season with the Bengals, he suffered a career-ending injury in the second game after a hard tackle fractured his C6 and C7 vertebrae.

Pollack related that although he was born in New Jersey, he was thankful that his family moved to Georgia when he was a child. He admitted that football was in his blood and by the time he was a junior at Shiloh High School in Snellville, Ga., he was large enough and strong enough to begin to have success in the sport he loved.

Mark Richt, former UGA head football coach, described Pollack as “disruptive, tenacious and relentless.” Most would agree that those adjectives would be descriptive of the superior football players in college and professional football.

Pollack admitted that he was not concerned about being “liked” by everybody, but he would like to be respected, specifying, “I am trying to live my life to earn the respect of people and in such a way that honors and glorifies God.

“I did not grow up believing in God. My parents, my brother and I never went to church, not one time, so I had never heard much about God. But as a junior in high school, I was invited to a church ‘lock-in.'  Staying up all night and playing games sounded like something I would enjoy, so I went. That was the first time I heard about Jesus and the first time a Gospel seed was planted in my heart.”

After his junior year, Pollack’s English teacher asked each student to select 200 pages of outside reading material to study during the summer and Pollack selected the Bible. His physics teacher, who was a devout Christian, suggested he read the four Gospels. The football star began reading and recalled, “God’s Word began to jump off the pages. It completely changed my life. I was saved and began my Christian journey.”

Pollack continued, “When I went to play football at Georgia and got to know Coach Richt, he was able to emphasize the importance of competing and working hard but taught me that there were more important things than football. Even now he is with me every morning at 6:00 o’clock and he is still teaching us and pouring into us, and he is an amazing example of staying faithful in the face of adversity.”

The All-American football player explained that he began to memorize scripture and compared the Bible to his playbook as an athlete at UGA and said, “That playbook provides the answer for every conceivable situation in a football game and the Bible provides the answer for every conceivable situation in life.”

Pollack declares that the best thing that ever happened to him was the tragic injury on the football field when he was playing for the Bengals, because for four months he had to wear a medical halo to stabilize the neck and skull. His busy life was reduced to a quiet time of reflection and during those months in the stillness of his life, he was blessed to get to know God intimately. He stated, “Everything in my life is better because of that experience.”

Pastor Browning asked Pollack, “You are all over the place with your life and schedule which is different every week. How do you manage to keep your faith and family a priority?”

Pollack responded, “You are right in putting faith first. We can be all over the place. We could be in Oregon, but we are going to be in church every Sunday. Every Sunday in the fall (when life is busiest) we are going to be in church. My kids know we are going to be in church. Wednesday nights we go to church.  It is not an option. There is nothing we do that takes us away from church.

“I love everything that comes with sports – discipline, toughness, winning, losing – but when we consistently skip church for sports you are showing your kids that sports are more important than God. Church attendance is a non-negotiable for us. If sports are what you prioritize in your house, it will be tough for your kids in the future.”