Monday, January 20, 2014

Hey NY Jewish Youth, want to win 2 free tickets to the Super Bowl? Check this out!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Seder Table Not Unlike NFL Experience


Camaraderie When All Family Members Are Seated  

By Alan 'Shlomo' Veingrad

Passover is quite possibly the most observed of all Jewish holidays. Jews with little affiliation to their faith find their way to a Seder table. Being with family members in an informal home setting, the tradition, four cups of wine, various customs and rituals, all make the Seder a positive experience for those in attendance. While the “four sons” differ from each other in their reaction to the Seder, they do have one thing in common – they are all present and accounted for. Even the “Wicked Son” is there – rebellious, disruptive, but nonetheless active and interested in being Jewish. We then hope that the wicked son will become wise and that all in attendance will become Torah observing Jews.

Today, however, we have another son: the fifth son, the son who is absent from the Seder service, the son who has no interest in attending, no interest in Torah, mitzvahs, laws and customs and may not even know about the Exodus from Egypt. This problem presents all Jews, especially parents, with a challenge to prepare before the Seder.

The responsibility is to ensure no Jew goes without a seat at a Seder. We should never give up on the fifth son. We should all make an effort to save our children and bring them to our Seder. The camaraderie found at a Seder is most meaningful. It is a place where Jews with varied observant backgrounds, experiences and interests are able to connect to one another and strive to develop and deepen their growth in Judaism. With this focus we are all sure to have a Seder that will last and enrich one’s life with more meaning and purpose. 

Now how does the National Football League connect to the Passover Seder?

The number one question I get asked most often is what I miss most about playing in the NFL. Having played for two of the NFL’s premier franchises, the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, my response is always the same: I miss Tuesdays and Sundays. Tuesday is customarily payday and the standard day off around the league to finally get a chance to rest and heal your beaten body’s soreness, aches and pains. Also it’s nice getting paid for what you love to do. Sunday is “game day,” the energy, the intensity, the smell in the air and the fierce competition. Most players miss the games and, quite candidly, payday. But the number one thing ALL players miss is the camaraderie. You just can’t get this outside of being on a team.

 I remember reading an article in the NFL Alumni Yearbook entitled, “Where Are They Now?” a piece on Joe Klecko, the legendary defensive lineman from the New York Jets famous Sack Exchange defense.  The article discussed that what he missed most from his days in the NFL is the camaraderie, having a group of guys all striving for a common goal, taking care of one another, watching each other’s back on and off the field and being there for each other.

 It has been hard to find real camaraderie outside of the NFL, however Thank G-d I found it! I found it in community, in the Jewish community. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in his book, “We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do,” says the Jewish people are a family.  I say we are a team that sticks together, helps one another out and finds that fifth son to pass the rich traditions of Judaism on to and leave no Jew without a seat at the Passover Seder.
Alan ‘Shlomo’ Veingrad,, has inspired thousands with his candid, humorous, inspirational and spell-binding tales on life in the ultra-competitive NFL, and how he took that fire to transform himself into a Torah-observant Jew following his playing days. Veingrad lives with his family in Boca Raton, FL and when he is not speaking works as a Financial Strategist. Veingrad has traveled from New York to South Africa speaking at camps, Shabbatons, school programs, yeshivas, scholar-in-residence programs, men’s clubs, as well as charity fund raising events. He is often asked to speak to businesses and corporations looking to inspire their employees, and is an inductee of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Veingrad can be reached at



Friday, November 2, 2012

New York City Police Department's "Shomrim Society" Person of the Year

This past Sunday October 28, 2012 I was honored as the New York City Police Department's "Shomrim Society" 88th annual award "Person of the Year".

Thank you to the Shomrim Society for honoring me as "Person of the Year" award. The first Shomrim Society was established in the New York City Police Department in 1924. The goal of the society appears atop its stationery so that Law Enforcement Officers of the Jewish faith may join together for the Welfare of all.

A special thanks to my friend and former San Francisco 49er John Frank (the other Torah-observant Jewish NFLer) for accepting this award on my behalf since I was unable to attend.
This award means a great deal to me. My older brother Steve is a 26-year veteran for the Miami-Dade Police Department. In fact my brother Steve was instrumental in getting me off the streets of Miami and involved with football. He also became my workout partner and punching bag for years. It is also to his credit that I became a speaker as he was a DARE officer in his early years often asking me to speak at DARE graduations in my offseason from the NFL.
Thanks again to the Shomrim Society for this recognition and thank you police officers everywhere for the great work that they do, I’m a big fan!
Alan ‘Shlomo’ Veingrad

Friday, September 28, 2012

Embracing Change

Don’t Hold Yourself Back From Growth – External and Internal

By Alan ‘Shlomo’ Veingrad

Reunions - high school, college, jobs, family - are always times of challenge and stress. Will I be recognizable? What will people think of me? Will I be embarrassed?

And yet, it is almost essential to not only be prepared for change that can come with time, but to seek and embrace it. Whether it involves your business, company, career or inner-self, standing still, being stagnant, is not the best choice, in good times or bad.

In my case, it’s been 20 years since my fast-paced, 6-foot-5 285-pound offensive lineman days on a Dallas Cowboys team that won Super Bowl XXVII with a roster of Hall of Fame and NFL No. 1 Draft Pick players, household names like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

Today, instead of pointing at opposing lineman or trading barbs, I point out investment products and provide motivational speeches related to personal transformation.

But what has changed most is my inner-self through my decision to connect with my roots -- to become a Torah-observant Jew. Following my pro football career, I traded my No. 76 jersey for the daily prayer shawl, my helmet for a yarmulke and beard, by English name for my Hebrew name.

I have received publicity over the years with my internal transformation. And some of my fellow teammates were aware of it when I went to Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 23 and attended the 20th anniversary of our Super Bowl winning team. Still, you never know about a re-union, until you arrive.

“Shlomo!” yelled out former defensive lineman Russell Maryland, boisterously addressing me by my Hebrew name when I entered the special suite for the gathering of former champion players.

Others in attendance were not familiar with my transformation, or religion, for that matter, until they saw me wearing a yarmulke.

“I didn’t know you were Jewish,” said former teammate and defensive end Charles Haley.

“Yeah!” I responded. “I was then and I am now.”

Half way through the second quarter, we took an elevator down from the suite for a special, on-the-field half time ceremony. We gathered with Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach and other players from the Cowboys’ Super Bowl XII winning team.

Wrote CBS sports blogger Richie Whitt after the game: “With 5 Super Bowl banners hanging from the rafters, the halftime ceremony honoring the title teams of ’77 and ‘92 featured one player (Jethro Pugh) using a walker, and another (Alan Veingrad) wearing a yarmulke.”

I was self-conscious that almost 82,000 fans could have been watching me on the world’s largest HDTV screen high above the field. But I was also proud to have worn my yarmulke. After the game, obviously more recognizable than before it, I was enthusiastically approached by fans asking me to sign their Cowboys hats, programs and other paraphernalia. Later, Jason Garrett, my former teammate and current Cowboys head coach, warmly greeted me at another special gathering in the stadium. Garrett was already familiar with my spiritual growth based on an article he read.

“You are a legend around here,” he said, as we posed together for a photo. “How’s all that wisdom?” 

For all the good ribbing and conversation, I was getting hungry for some kosher food, as was my son, who had joined me on this special journey about my past. But I certainly left filled intellectually and spiritually from the experience and knowledge that I gained. The program had reinforced what I often speak about: Don’t be afraid of change and what other people think of you; People are not always laughing at you, but with you.

Alan ‘Shlomo’ Veingrad has inspired thousands with his candid, humorous, inspirational and spell-binding tales on life in the ultra-competitive NFL, and how he took that fire to transform himself into a Shomer Shabbat and observant Jew following his playing days. Based in Boca Raton, FL, Veingrad has traveled from New York to South Africa speaking at camps, Shabbatons, school programs, yeshivas, scholar-in-residence programs, men’s clubs, as well as charity fund raising events. He is often asked to speak to businesses and corporations looking to inspire their employees, and is an inductee of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. For speaking engagements, Veingrad can be reached at To read more and see videos about him, visit



Friday, August 31, 2012

It’sKick-Off Time!

Rosh Hashana – A Time For A Winning Attitude, Transformation

By Alan Veingrad

As an observant Jew and former professional football player, I am always struck by the proximity of Rosh Hashana and the start of the NFL season.

The month of Elul leading up to the Jewish New Year provides an opportunity to renew, refresh and ready oneself for the start of another “season.”

And while making the team was not “who shall live, and who shall die,” there is no forgetting that adrenaline rush from home openers at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, where legendary Packer Coach Vince Lombardi once roamed and was quoted as saying, “Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.”

I played offensive lineman for one of Coach Lombardi’s disciples, Forrest Gregg, and later, in Dallas under another from the coaching pantheon, Jimmy Johnson, as a member of the Cowboys’ 1992 Super Bowl championship team.

Gregg and Johnson preached discipline and improvement. Their assistants and I studied successes and failures: Did I make the right block? Was I in the right place at the right time? Did I follow instructions and prepare properly? Did I jump off-sides or get called for holding – costing my team the game?

In every sport and every endeavor there are fumbles, errors, misses and failures. There comes a time when we have to say, “I blew a big chance to make an impact. I forgot what you told me and it hurt the team. I accept responsibility and I am sorry. Will you forgive me, coach? This season, I’m ready to start over and be every bit the player you know I can be.”

In my transformation to a Torah-observant Jew and commitment to make my G-d, family and community proud of me, I carry the same attitude and willingness to learn and be better, to not raise a voice or step on a toe, to be capable of scoring a touchdown by meaningful mitzvah, to forgive and seek forgiveness.
The holiday of Rosh Hashanah gets us back in the game. It’s our time to seek forgiveness, make adjustments, to let G-d know that we’re going to learn his playbook, the Torah, like never before, and that we are going to make Him proud.

Alan ‘Shlomo’ Veingrad has inspired thousands with his candid, humorous, inspirational and spell-binding tales on life in the ultra-competitive NFL, and how he took that fire to transform himself into a Torah-observant Jew following his playing days. Based in Boca Raton, FL, Veingrad has traveled from New York to South Africa speaking at camps, Shabbatons, school programs, yeshivas, scholar-in-residence programs, men’s clubs, as well as charity fund raising events. He is often asked to speak to businesses and corporations looking to inspire their employees, and is an inductee of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. For speaking engagements, Veingrad can be reached at To read more and see videos about him, visit

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Munich Massacre Must Not Be Forgotten

Demand A Moment Of Silence At The London Summer Olympic Games

By Alan Veingrad

The start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London will undoubtedly be a magnificent pageantry of thousands of entertainers, heads of state, national flags, and marching athletes before a sea of cheering stadium fans.

But the traditional torch lighting will be splashed with darkness should the International Olympic Committee choose to ignore calls for a moment of silence, at the opening ceremony, in memory of the horror of the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Is it too much to remember 11 Israeli athletes and their coaches, kidnapped and murdered in the Olympic village dorms and on a German airport tarmac, individuals who came in the spirit of sport but who died because of their religion and nationality?

I was a mere 9 years old growing up in Miami when the tragedy of the games took place, and given my age probably better grasped the Miami Dolphins pursuing and achieving the first and only perfect season in professional football.

By high school, however, besides being a decent lineman in football, I also was a high level discus and shot put thrower. By that age, I could understand the magnitude of preparation and effort to get to an Olympic level in track and field.

The Israeli athletes murdered in 1972 trained many hours at something they loved, and then they go to compete and don’t come home. I could never imagine the type of horror that these athletes succumbed to, let alone the pain inflicted on their families.

Forty years since Israeli fencing coach Andrei Spitzer was murdered, his wife Ankie is leading a petition drive urging the IOC to remember the spirit in which her husband and other Israelis came to Germany four decades ago, and the tragedy that ensued.

I am glad to say I am one of 86,000 people to have signed the petition and hope others will do so as well. The U.S. Senate has passed a similar resolution. But the Olympics seem unwilling to place a memorial in its proper place, instead choosing a separate off site ceremony. It angers me and makes me wonder why? Is it because they were Jewish?

I played seven seasons as an offensive lineman for the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, and I am proud to say the NFL over the years has found ways to address sadness and tragedy. On September 19, 2004, every team wore a memorial decal in honor of Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety turned Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan. On Sept. 11, 2011, NFL teams used a video, taps and a moment of silence to memorialize the 10th anniversary of the attack on America by terrorists.

The London Olympic begin July 27 and we must speak up soon on this issue. Besides the IOC, individuals should consider contacting corporate sponsors of the games. At a minimum, sign the petition from Ankie Spitzer.

Alan Veingrad,, is a transformational speaker based in Boca Raton. An inductee of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, Veingrad was a member of the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XXVII championship team.

Friday, May 11, 2012

No Quick Fix To NFL Concussion Saga

As a rookie offensive lineman on the Green Bay Packers in 1986, I was awe struck by our coach, Forrest Gregg, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle whom the legendary Vince Lombardi called “the best player I ever coached.” An imposing figure at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Gregg had a commanding presence with his black piercing eyes and deep Texas drawl, a Super Bowl ring dangling from a crooked finger gnarled from professional football’s trenches.“This is a violent game,” Gregg would tell us players. But there was no additional warning that a career in the National Football League could physically, mentally and financially affect our post playing days. After seven years, I finished my pro football career with a Super Bowl ring from the 1992 Dallas Cowboys championship season. I walked away from the game – while I could still walk. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for many other NFL players. Some, financially broke or deeply depressed, have taken their own lives, the most recent being the tragic ending of All Pro linebacker Junior Seau at age 43, in San Diego. His ex-wife said Seau suffered concussions in his long career, and researchers at Boston University have asked to study his brain. Seau’s death comes on the heels of an assistant New Orleans Saints head coach being caught on video urging his players to injure, for money, opposing players, using shots to the head. The bounty scandal has the league in a public relations scramble, and rightfully so, despite levying heavy suspensions and fines to Saints coaches, management and players. Health warning labels are placed on products like alcohol and cigarettes. Maybe it is time to put a sticker on player helmets warning of the game’s hazards to health and life. When I entered the NFL as a 23 year old free agent from East Texas State University (now Texas A&M Commerce), I was 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds. I ran the 40 yard dash in 4.9 seconds and bench pressed 500 pounds. My mind at the time said I was “Superman.” It is hard to know what I might have done if I learned the full risks of playing pro football. For sure there were moments where I saw black after delivering a block for teammates like Dallas Hall of Famers Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. I also suffered “stingers,” a burning, tingling, painful sensation that radiates down your arms when nerves are compressed near the spinal cord. Today, my back has plenty of stiff moments. Other times I suffer an extended dull headache. I am one of hundreds of former players suing the NFL for failing to adequately warn us of dangers they knew or should have known. I do hope the league has clamped down on prescription drug and alcohol abuses common during my days in Green Bay. Following games, Packer players lined up to see the doctor and received a hand full of pain meds and a sleeping pill the size of a quarter that we called “The Green Bomb.” On charter flights home, players washed pills down with as many as a dozen ice cold beers provided by the flight attendants on the tarmac. It has been well documented that alcohol and prescription drugs taken together can injure your heart, liver or even kill you. Players addicted to pain pills were forced to enter drug rehabilitation centers -- only to become depressed on becoming clean. Anti-depressants in some cases made them further depressed, leaving them in a deep, dark place. Besides warning labels on helmets, maybe the league should go retro, replacing hard plastic helmets with padded leather ones, football gear circa 1920. Eliminating face masks might also cut down on jarring hits by players propelling their bodies head first like missiles. All that seems unlikely. Pro football is a business. Hard hits sell the NFL, bringing $9.5 billion to the league during the regular season. Seats are filled by plays like a wide receiver being walloped after catching a ball while crossing the field, the quarterback being sacked, or kick off teams unloading high speed blocks on each other. Eliminating thunderous collisions, for fear of brain damaging concussions, would not fill seats. And the NFL wants to sell seats. So the unanswered question remains, what can the NFL do to keep the game popular, but safe? There appears to be no quick fix to the dilemma. The NFL should do a better job educating players on dangers of playing the game. It must also continue to lay down severe penalties if players – on their own initiative or at the direction of coaches -- intentionally try to hurt other players. Alan Veingrad was raised in Miami and resides in Boca Raton. Following his professional football career, Veingrad has worked in financial services. He is also a motivational speaker.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim and the Lay Leadership Conference

What an experience! I spent the weekend in Brooklyn (Crown Heights), NY with 4,000 Chabad Rabbis. With that size crowd it reminded me of my playing days. Chabad Rabbis are offensive lineman in disguise. The greatest pushers in the world, better the NFL Lineman. That’s what NFL Lineman do, push another man against his will-back, to the side and not get pushed back themselves. Really! I have never been with such a positive group of people all striving to help people, push people to be their greatest and help them uncover there Jewish identities in a non-judgmental meaningful way. I had one of the greatest pleasures as a speaker, I was asked to share my own journey in front of such a esteemed group, the Rabbis and Lay Leaders of Chabad who are the financial supporters assisting Rabbis in communities all over the world. What a group, with various back grounds who have been inspired by these Rabbis to grow, change and make a positive difference in this world. To see some of what I experienced go to Watch the video of the Key Note speech from Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks How the Lubavitcher Rebbe Changed My Life. Monumental! I could totally relate, however I never met the Rebbe but his teachings changed my life. What a coach!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shabbaton at Chabad at KU (University of Kansas) Lawrence, KS

I just returned from an awesome weekend speaking and hanging out with the students all weekend at the University of Kansas - Chabad. I also spoke to the community Shabbos day. I am grateful for the warmth I received from all I met and from Rabbi Zalman and Nechama Tiechtel. I also received the greatest testimonial from Rabbi Tiechtel:

This past Shabbos we had Alan Veingrad join our Chabad House. In the past 6 years we had brought in quite a few speakers, but this guy was absolutely unbelievable! From the moment he came he was totally devoted to do whatever it takes to make this Shabbaton a success, speaking and farbrenging with our students and community again and again. He is ready and open to be there for whatever is needed, and very tuned in to the needs and sensitivities of the local place. He is also a great articulate speaker!

He is an inspiration to everyone he meets, as a very balanced person with both feet on the ground with an amazing story of athletic success on one hand (the students loved his super bowl ring...), with a very spiritual and religious connection as well. His message is clear out Yiddishkeit, motivating more growth and Kiyum of Torah and Mitzvos.

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel
The Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Life
Serving the University of Kansas
and the surrounding Communities

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Don’t get locked out…of Judaism

by Alan Shlomo Veingrad

Another season in the National Football League is now underway but it almost never happened. For months, players were locked out of their jobs, as owners and players failed to reach an agreement. This happened to me as a player, but even worse.

Imagine what this is like: you’re playing professional football – your dream for most of your life. You just start your second year in the NFL, everything is going really well for you, and then all of a sudden, right in the middle of the season, the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players breaks down and the season grinds to an immediate halt.

You are locked out: you can’t even get into the locker room, weight room, or stadium. Your season is over just like that. You are not even sure what the whole thing means but you know this: there are no more games, no team, no job and no paychecks. But the worst part is that the owners bring in replacement players to fill their rosters and all you can do is watch on TV as your own “team” plays every Sunday. This is what happened in the last strike.

This was not how my career was supposed to go. I didn’t even know what to do. Should I keep working out, expecting this to be over soon? Should I go try to find another job?

I felt terrible. I worked so hard to get into the NFL. I had built my life around this – why did this happen? All because the two sides couldn’t agree – because they were unwilling to compromise on their demands. In the end, they didn’t really get what they wanted anyway, but to fight for it, they could have ended up with nothing meaning no season.

This almost happened again this year with even more at stake. The NFL now brings in more than $9 billion in revenues each year and the whole season was jeopardized because the principles were not getting exactly what they wanted.

Sadly, this refusal to compromise, this rigid approach to insisting on our own terms, is not limited to the NFL. It almost took down our whole country in the recent debt-ceiling fiasco. And it is one of the most common reasons people pass up on invaluable opportunities for meaningful Jewish experiences.

“That synagogue is not my favorite,” “this rabbi seems too religious,” and “those classes make me uncomfortable” are just some of the reasons we just stay home, locking ourselves out of our Jewish communities – and ultimately out of our own Jewish lives. We set high expectations for the Judaism we want, which may even be appropriate, but when they are not met we give up.

In the NFL, few games go according to plan. The passing game you were counting on gets thwarted by a great defense, or even by bad weather. A key player gets hurt and someone has to take over a job they’re not suited for. When that happens, it’s time to embrace “Plan B.” Nobody likes to accept Plan B but if that’s what it takes to win, there’s no time to fret over it. You make the adjustment and get right back out there.

In Jewish life, Plan A’s can be hard to come by. But Judaism is too valuable to lose out on. $9-10 billion is nothing compared to what there is to gain from investing yourself in Jewish living and learning. You just have to be willing to give a little here and compromise a little there. The truth is, that’s when the game really begins and that’s when winners prove themselves.
This New Year, don’t let anything lock you out of the stadium. The payoff is just too great. Have a healthy, happy and sweet new year.