Monday, November 29, 2010

A Former NFLer's Journey to Orthodox Judaism

By: Sammy Hudes

“There’s certainly a connection between football and Orthodox Jewry, believe it or not,” says former NFLer Alan Veingrad. “You get to shul in the morning and you have to put on the uniform − the tallis and the tefillin – and you start to clear your mind in order to have success in your prayers. It’s the same thing with getting to the locker room and putting on your uniform and clearing your mind so you can go out and have a successful practice.”

The year was 1972, when his family relocated from New York to Miami. Inspired by the Miami Dolphins’ undefeated 1972 season that ended in a Super Bowl championship, it was there in Southern Florida where Veingrad, who was just nine, discovered his passion for football. Intrigued by the sport, Veingrad and his brother began attending plenty of games and practices, as their father had purchased Dolphins season tickets.

“At that time of my life, I was growing up your typical American kid. I liked to go fishing, and boating and snorkeling,” says Veingrad of his childhood. Raised in a secular Jewish environment, his religion naturally took a backseat to his interest in sports. “I recall my parents were, not forcing me, but taking me to Hebrew school to learn about the history of the Jewish people and how to speak Hebrew to prepare for Bar Mitzvah.”

As Veingrad grew older, his passion for football began reaching new heights. After playing high school football, Veingrad received a scholarship to play at East Texas State University. He credits his five year college career for the physical and mental preparation he needed to advance his game. An offensive lineman, Veingrad went undrafted in the National Football League, but signed as a walk-on free agent with the Green Bay Packers in 1986. He made the team that same year, and started every game as a rookie.

After five years with the Packers, Veingrad spent two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. With Dallas, he was able to win the Super Bowl following the 1992 season. “It was definitely one of my proudest moments,” says Veingrad of one of the greatest professional sports achievements that there is. “It takes a buy in from everybody. You don’t have any naysayers on the squad. You have everybody that’s pulling in the same direction. Everybody expects everybody to give it their all and if there’s somebody that’s not, the players will approach him and let him know that that’s not acceptable to us, for the benefit of this team.”

Following the championship season, Veingrad retired from the NFL. He was satisfied with his career, and his life for that matter. “During my five years in college and my seven years in the NFL, if you had asked me what religion I am, I’d say I’m Jewish. If you had asked me what day it is, I’d say it’s Wednesday. Many times I didn’t know what Jewish holiday it was. I didn’t really care what Jewish holiday it was. I was playing football.”

Soon after retirement, Veingrad was a happily married man with a newborn child. One day, his family was invited over for a Friday night Shabbat dinner at his cousin Jonathan’s. “His family is Orthodox, which I knew. They lived here in South Florida so I went to the Friday night meal, and I didn’t know anything [about Orthodox Judaism] and I didn’t really care. It was after the meal that he asked ‘would you go to a


  1. Where's the rest of the blog article? It appears cut off. Really fascinating!!

  2. It was great to speak with you again alan after so many years. Congratulations on your success. Wendy ross herdegen

  3. The end of the article is cut off but message understood!
    Wendy Ross Herdegen

  4. FULL ARTICLE:'s_Journey_to_Orthodox_Judaism/