Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather





Put your ad message in front of 1,000's and 1,000's of Pirate fans. Call 252.637.2944 for flexible options & rates.





The Bradsher Beat
Friday, February 29, 2008

By Bethany Bradsher

Garrard on journey with a higher power

By Bethany Bradsher
All rights reserved.

The evening’s program was not quite over, so all 600 guests got to see the parade of four boys snaking between the tables at the Greenville Convention Center Thursday night.

Each was carrying a white Pirates football, and their destination was obvious.

The boys stopped at the table at the front of the room to request autographs from the evening’s featured speaker – and East Carolina's most recent national sports hero. But David Garrard’s purpose at the Sportworks Banquet had little to do with personal accomplishments and everything to do with the faith that has sustained him through a journey marked with personal and professional pain.

Garrard, who led the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 12-6 record as the starting quarterback this season and finished the year with 208 of 325 completions and 2,509 yards for 18 touchdowns, did spend a few minutes remembering his recent mountaintop experiences – but he deflected the credit for those.

“It was nothing but the hand of God in how all of this played out for me,” he said. “I knew I could play that well at times, but to be as consistent as I was, it was only because God was ruling my life.”

At the top of his career after seven seasons in the NFL, Garrard is also fulfilled in his family life – he and his wife Mary had a baby boy, Justin, in September. But as he recounted his personal story to the crowd gathered to celebrate Sportworks’ 10th anniversary, Garrard gave equal time to the periods when he was beset by hopelessness and frustration.

Garrard’s parents divorced when he was 6, and his mother moved her four children to Durham. He thrived there until his mother became sick with breast cancer during his freshman year in high school. When she died, Garrard remembers feeling alienated from the God he had learned about years earlier in church, he said.

“I turned my back to the Lord, because he took my mother from me, and this was too much to handle,” he said.

He poured himself into football and school, under the guidance of his older brother Anthony, but when he got to East Carolina he felt like he was looking for something, he said, and he remembers Coach Steve Logan telling him that he would never be a complete person or a complete quarterback without a “spiritual side.”

“I knew I had a void in my life,” he said. “I knew there was something inside me that wasn’t fulfilling my life.”

The antidote to that inner turmoil came during lunch with Sportworks director Chuck Young at McAllister’s Deli one afternoon. Drawn by the promise of free food, Garrard had started attending weekly Bible studies for football players at Young’s house. That day at lunch, Garrard felt a tug to step forward in his faith, and Young encouraged him to open the door and give God control of his life.

“Something inside of me said, ‘It’s time,’” he said. “And after that I said, ‘You know what? Life is going to be perfect now. I’ve got no more worries, I’ve got God on my side.’ ”

But the valleys continued to crop up for Garrard, although after that day at McAllister’s he knew where to turn for comfort and purpose, he said. After finishing his college career with a crushing loss to the Byron Leftwich-led Marshall team, Garrard finally got to his first NFL gig with the Jaguars and learned that Leftwich had been hired as the team’s starting quarterback.

What followed were five seasons in which he labored as Leftwich’s backup, pining for the chance to start. He made the most of his role, but those early seasons were also marred by poor health, and just over four years ago he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a serious intestinal illness. He lost 40 pounds, and doctors considered putting him an all-liquid diet. Instead, he had about a foot of his intestines removed during surgery. His symptoms have never returned.

When Leftwich was injured in 2006 and Garrard got his chance, he stumbled during the last three games, and he feared that he had lost his one opportunity to lead the team.

He was wrong. In September he took the helm for real, Leftwich was cut from the Jaguars, and Garrard turned in a season that many pundits pronounced worthy of the Pro Bowl.

In sharing the ebb and flow of his first 29 years with the Sportworks crowd, Garrard compared himself to Joseph in the Bible, who was abandoned by his brothers, sold into slavery, then falsely accused and thrown into prison, to ultimately rise to become second in command to the Pharoah.

Like Joseph, Garrard said, he is sure that every chapter of his life has been a means to his ultimate goal – helping God achieve eternal things in a world that is often saturated with the temporary.

“People always tell you that to whom much is given, much is required,” he said. “What are you doing with the gift that God has given you?”

Send an e-mail message to Bethany Bradsher.

Dig into Bethany Bradsher's Bonesville archives.

02/29/2008 02:30:56 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.