Though he’s primarily known for his time as the star quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Garrard’s story is complex. He has carved out a notable football career coming out of a relatively small school. More importantly, he’s a dedicated family man who is also open about his spirituality. Recently, he announced his plans to open up three Retro Fitness locations in Florida.
And the QB isn’t done! He is currently a backup on the New York Jets roster and while he hasn’t played yet this season, he is regarded as a valuable mentor for rookie starter Geno Smith.
We recently had a chance to exclusively chat with him:
David Garrard: When I first retired, it was because I knew that I wasn’t in good shape to continue on. I was swollen, hurting and never gave my injury time to fully recover. I decided to take the summer off and then started training again, just to be in better shape for life. But, I can only take so much time off… I started noticing that my knee was much better and not hurting. Watching football on Sundays really kicked in my desire to get back on the field again. I didn’t want to live life thinking “what if.”
EJ: When you were at East Carolina University, at what point did you believe you could eventually become a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL?
DG: It was after my sophomore year — we had a really good season that year, we were nine and three. For the first time ever, someone came up to me and asked, “David, are you coming out for the draft?” I thought to myself, “Wow, I never even thought of that as a possibility before.” Sophomore year was the tipping point where I realized I at least had potential.
EJ: It took a long while for you to get a chance as a starter in the NFL. Was it difficult to wait? Did that time on the sidelines help you or was it a waste of your prime years?
DG: It definitely took me a while to get on the field and as starting quarterback, but that time was great for me because I knew when I came in that I had a lot to learn. I had a great teacher, a new coach that brought his own QB, so I had to wait for my time. I always knew that whenever my opportunity came, I would need to seize the moment. And I did so every time I stepped out there. Eventually, it became apparent that I shouldn’t be on the sidelines anymore.
EJ: Looking back, what is the highlight of your football life to date?
DG: My highlight was from the very beginning, when I was a kid living in New Jersey. My brothers were playing football at a team practice — it’s my earliest memory of the game. I even remember the smell of the grass and all the kids running around with their uniforms and thought, “What is this?” Shortly after, I started watching the games on TV with my family and realized I wanted to play football one day. I didn’t realize that you could play professional football for a career, but I definitely wanted to play.
EJ: In addition to football, you’re also on your way to becoming an accomplished business owner. Will your experience leading men as an NFL quarterback help you when it comes to running your Retro Fitness clubs?
DG: When you’re a starting QB, even in college, everyone is looking to you for leadership. “What do we do now? You’re our leader, so lead us.” That is how I’m going to approach business, especially with all of my Retro Fitness gyms. I’ve been around the fitness world quite some time now. Also, as of late, I’ve been listening carefully and picking up on what people are teaching me about the business world as I am developing my own business. I will not be hard-headed about this. I plan on listening to the franchisor, Eric Casaburi, about how the business should be run every day and really following through. Eric has the gameplan to do it perfectly and the business model that works. He and the corporate team have been teaching me well and I plan to stick to their advice so my gym can be profitable.
DG: Every year, it’s just more and more added to the plate. Spirituality is at the head of the table, then family life, and then my businesses, which includes my NFL career and my Retro Fitness clubs. The most important thing is understanding that your time will be occupied many different ways and you will get pulled in many directions at once. You must have a good team behind you and luckily my wife totally gets it, along with my colleagues at Retro Fitness. Business ownership is new to me, but I have a good financial advisor/partner, who is savvy and I can trust to help me out. As long as I have my wife and my business partner beside me to help me navigate the waters, I know I will be successful.
EJ: As someone who is smart about money, do you ever try to talk with teammates who you see are spending money wildly? Does anyone ever listen?
DG: As a rookie, I was one of those guys, thinking I could spend money however I want. Then, once it gets close to the season and you realize you haven’t gotten paid yet (NFL players don’t get paid until 17 weeks into the season), you wish that you budgeted better. All offseason, you need to budget and put money away. My first year, I made a lot of mistakes. But, over the years, I started to realize that you need to pay it forward and help out your teammates. I began advising my rookie teammates and told them that they need someone to help them budget — the WHOLE year. I definitely plan on talking to guys in the locker room, especially now that I’m going to be the oldest one in there! Since I’m oldest, they actually DO listen to me. I’m not sure if they actually follow any of my advice, but they at least listen to me now. I think a lot of my teammates will start thinking about investing in franchises as they see my success that will come with Retro Fitness.
EJ: Now that you are an active NFL player again, is your dream still to be a starting quarterback on a Super Bowl winning team?
DG: Absolutely — that’s why you play the game. You always want to be the starting QB, but I do understand that I’m towards the end of my NFL career, so for the remainder, my primary job may just be to act as a mentor — which I am fine with. But you always have to be ready for your big moment to arrive. It only takes one quick play or an injury and you get thrown in the game. I’m realistic and I know I only have so many years left. So moving forward, all I can do is compete, be a good veteran backup and let the chips fall where they may.
To get to know more about David Garrard, follow him on Twitter @davidgarrard9