Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

ESPN's David Pollack brings both brashness and belief to broadcasting role

David Pollack knows you might not like him, and he’s OK with that. The former college and NFL player turned member of ESPN’s “College GameDay” is loud, obnoxious and opinionated — and those are just the words he uses to describe himself.

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“I hated the media a ton,” Pollack recently said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast, when asked about how he transitioned from NFL player to football analyst. “If you’d told me I would be part of the ‘media’ I would have slapped you upside the head. I would never in a million years … you’ve lost your mind …

But as Pollack recovered from a career-ending neck injury, he found himself watching sports analysts online, and realizing his outgoing, opinionated personality could be a good fit.

“So I’m sitting in my house in 2007, and I’m rehabbing, and getting healthy, and getting part of my life back together, and trying to figure out what I’m going to do … and I’m [watching some TV broadcasters I know] and texting them back and forth, yelling at them … and I told my agent, ‘Hey man, if I can’t do this football stuff, this [broadcast] stuff is kind of cool. You know I’m loud, I’m obnoxious, I’m opinionated — I seem to have the prerequisite skills to be successful at this!'”

Sure enough, he began a broadcast career in 2008 with CBS and Atlanta sports radio, and he joined “College GameDay” in 2011. Pollack kicks off his ninth year with the traveling show this Saturday as “CollegeGameDay” returns to air from Walt Disney World ahead of the Miami-Florida game in Orlando.

While Pollack takes his job seriously — he says he researches as hard as anyone he knows — he sees his primary job to be complete, straight-shooting honesty. While this approach has occasionally stirred up controversy, it also has contributed to College GameDay’s enormous popularity.

“I’m going to watch a bunch of tape, but you know I’m going to sit up there and give it to you straight,” Pollack says. “And guess what? Sometimes you’re gonna love me, and sometimes you’re gonna hate me. Bottom line, if [I] pick against somebody’s team, they don’t like you. You can say nicest thing in the history of the world and all they hear is “you picked X [to win] and you didn’t pick Y.’ [This job] has always been fun, and it’s enjoyable to do, but it’s something where you learn you can’t please everyone.”

Part of what helps keep Pollack grounded is the close-knit relationships he’s developed with the GameDay crew, as well as other ESPN coworkers. Pollack says there’s a group text of fellow Christians at ESPN who text each other encouragement, support and prayer requests. Pollack believes that while his and his colleagues’ Christian faith may not be expressly talked about on-air, how they live their lives shares the Gospel.

Our body of work, and who we are, and how we carry ourselves preaches the Gospel,” Pollack says. “Way more will be caught than taught. No matter how you shake it out, what you say, how you treat people, do you love people, do you love people who are unlovable … do you love people who are difficult?”

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