During his time on the Jaguars, David Garrard played quarterback for nine seasons, leading the team to a playoff victory in 2008. Some of his most memorable plays include his 32-yard, game-changing run in the 2011 playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, or his amazing last-minute Hail Mary in 2010 against the Houston Texans. He officially announced his retirement on May 8, 2015, but he continues to give back to the community in many ways.
When asked for his opinion on why everyone in Jacksonville should be passionate about having this team in our city, Garrard offered some great advice. “We should remember that we are very fortunate that we have them. Not every city has a team,” he said. “Look at a big metropolitan city like L.A. They don’t have a football team. Realize that teams have come and gone before from different cities, and we don’t want to be one of those cities that loses their team for lack of fan support. So, we need to be very proud that we have the Jaguars, even in the lean times.”
Garrard also has some great suggestions on how to be a better fan. “Always stick up for your team through the good and the bad. Don’t walk out on them early if you come to the game,” he said. “Always continue to lend your support, and never talk bad about them to other fans because you may convince somebody to not be a fan anymore. Even when things are going not so good, you can always find some positive.”
Garrard doesn’t just talk about having a positive outlook, he demonstrates it in his life by helping others. When he first joined the NFL, he established the David Garrard Foundation, an organization that strives to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle among youth. In his retirement, Garrard continues to focus on giving back to the community and reaching out. This June, he took part in a youth program in his home state of North Carolina called, “Air It Out Football and Cheer Camp.” The camp teaches athletic skills, as well as life skills.
“It went really well,” Garrard said. “We had 200 boys come out, and we also had a cheer camp at the same time. It was about 100 degrees out there, but we kept everybody nice and hydrated. I really think the boys learned a lot, and not just football drills and techniques. They also learned how to act and be respectful young men in the community. We tell them you’re not just here to learn football, you’re here to learn to be young men.”
It’s given me a new chapter in life after football.
The David Garrard Foundation also works to raise awareness and funding for research into curing breast cancer. In a letter published on the foundation’s website, he states that his mother impressed upon her family the importance of a healthy lifestyle before she passed away when he was just 16.
“During my mother’s battle with breast cancer, it made me more conscientious about my health and the health of my family,” Garrard said. “My mother always talked about her illness and wanted us to take care of ourselves. She lost her life to breast cancer, which is why the David Garrard Foundation provides funding to organizations striving to find a cure.”
The foundation also works to promote awareness of Crohn’s and Colitis, a disease which Garrard himself was diagnosed with in 2003.
With his strong beliefs in promoting health and physical fitness, it is not surprising that in his retirement, Garrard decided to go into the fitness business. He recently opened his third Retro Fitness Gym in Jacksonville. Retro Fitness has over 130 locations nationwide. Garrard purchased franchising rights in Duval and St. Johns County, and plans to open more locations in the future.
“I thought it was a great idea, a great brand for me, being able to give back to the community something healthy, something positive and something the community could be happy and proud of, and also my family, too. I thought it would be a good legacy for me and for my kids one day,” said Garrard. “It’s given me a new chapter in life after football.”