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.