A college professor once told me that there were two sides to every pancake, no matter how flat it was. He told the class (which was part of a criminal defense class) this had everything to do with people, places and things and of course, criminal justice. It was a lesson well learned and I apply it to a lot of what I do in my career.
When it comes to David Garrard, there is the athlete and the human being, and in most cases, they are not one in the same.
In this case as well, the human being is probably more significant than the player who threw for 16,000 yards in his career and 89 touchdowns while gaining another 14 on the ground.
Garrard, who is one of my heroes, announced on Wednesday that his knee which has been a problem for him since last year, was not responding like he wanted it to and therefore, he would be retiring from the New York Jets. He had spent his previous 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins.
While we are always consumed with the “score” and the “game” many times we forget about the “player” who has a life outside of football. In this case, Garrard and I have a common love for the sport, we both have two children and we both live our life with Crohns Disease. At 35 years old, he may be six years my junior, but I can honestly say he is a hero of mine for so many reasons, mainly the human element he displays when talking to the media, making people aware of Crohns Disease and talking about breast cancer, which took his mother from him.
Oh, did I mention my mother is also battling cancer? Did I mention when I heard about Garrard and his love for his mother and his support of women and breast cancer, it made me appreciate his work off the field more and more?
It isn’t about yards thrown or touchdowns or wins. It’s about character and showmanship and a smile that we always saw. David will go down in the record books right now as the second best quarterback to ever wear teal and hopefully one day, that means he will be on the Ring of Honor at EverBank Field. We will never know the real reasons why he was cut back in 2010, but our team and our community lost a leader and a fighter.
Just about every team can “say” that about its own, but how many truly believe it when the words are read out loud?
The Jaguars can say that about No. 9. And when they say it, it is said with conviction. There may have been better players to put on a Jaguars’ jersey, more with records, but there are few who were as much a class act as her was.
All we (and this writer) can do now is say thanks for the memories, thanks for the spirit and thanks for the support you gave our community.