Five years ago, David Pollack's football career ended with a thud. But the former University of Georgia star defensive end has resurrected it as one of sportscasting's rising stars.
As Georgia's career sack leader, Pollack was counting on a long career in the NFL. But in only his second game of his second season as a Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, he suffered a broken neck during a collision with Cleveland Browns running back Ruben Droughns.
“It was a freak play,” Pollack said. “I've probably taken a thousand worst hits than that.”
Becoming a sportscaster was the last thing on his mind during his long recovery process in which screws and plates were inserted into his neck.
“It's not something I had ever planned on doing,” he said. “In fact, I wasn't too fond of the media. Some of the stupid questions you get asked. ‘Really, come on man.'”
Pollack eventually gave radio a try, hosting an Atlanta sports talk show. He also gained some TV experience, leading to an audition with ESPN. After two years with ESPNU, Pollack is the newest member of ESPN's college football juggernaut, “College Football GameDay,” which will be in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday to preview the No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Florida State game that night on ABC.
Pollack, who also co-hosts the entertaining “Palmer & Pollack” show on ESPNU (noon-3 p.m. and 8-11 p.m. Mondays) with former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer, is a shell of his former football self after weighing as much as 292 pounds at Georgia.
“Now, I'm about 60 pounds lighter,” he said. “I lost half a human being.”
For Pollack, 29, he is having the time of his life working with Erin Andrews for the ESPNU hour (8-9 a.m.) and host Chris Fowler and analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard for the two hours on ESPN (9-11 a.m.)
“The biggest thing about this is football got taken away from me at a young age,” he said. “This gives me my fix. This is my football. It keeps it running through my veins because I'm a junkie. I'm football 24/7.”
Pollack also is getting to cover some of the biggest games of the year. That wasn't the case last year in broadcasting 11 a.m. games for ESPNU.
“Some of my games were Arkansas State-Indiana. It's a little different when you got LSU-Oregon to open it up and you have the best game in college football. It's a blessing, man. The fans make it awesome because they are out there cheering and it gets your blood boiling. It makes you feel like you're playing again.”
Herbstreit said he lobbied to add Pollack to the popular show.
“I've been a huge fan of his as an individual human being and the way he carries himself,” Herbstreit said. “He has passion for this game and he loves it. He is just like me when it comes to living it, eating it, breathing it. He has been a great addition.”
Pollack said he is looking forward to being in Tallahassee on Saturday for what he expects will be Florida State's biggest home game in years.
“It's big because it's the first time that you've got Tallahassee rocking again,” he said. “They haven't been in the top five since 2005. This is a huge stage for them to prove that Jimbo (Fisher) and those guys are back. It's two good recruiting classes back to back, but they had some attrition the years before at the end of (Bobby) Bowden's run. This is a big show-me moment.”