Summer 2024

Former NFL QB Dan Orlovsky prospering at ESPN while letting faith in God guide him

It didn’t take long once he announced his retirement from the NFL in 2017 for Dan Orlovsky to find work. By 2018, he was hired by ESPN as a college football and NFL analyst.

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Turns out there’s quite a demand for a 13-year NFL veteran who played quarterback and has a propensity for breaking down plays in a way that makes it easy for the average fan to understand. With his charisma, engaging persona and obvious football IQ, Orlovsky — at 38 years old — has become a rising star in sports television.

It’s all about wanting to bloom where he’s planted, he said on Sports Spectrum’s “Weekly Slant” season finale.

“I love it right now,” Orlovsky said. “I love it for two things. I knew I couldn’t just sit still. I’m not wired like that. That’s not when I’m the best version of myself — to have nothing, as far as work wise, challenging me on a daily basis.

“So I love that. I love the challenge of trying to find stuff that you can show and teach on football, tape on a television show, to have fun with and to educate with.”

On top of his work with shows like “NFL Live,” “First Take” and “Get Up” on ESPN, Orlovsky launched a podcast with other football analysts called “Tape Heads,” where they break down football plays and schemes from an X’s-and-O’s perspective to help the average fan understand football at a deeper level.

Orlovsky also often provides similar content through his Twitter feed, whether he’s on set or at home watching a game:

His passion for and knowledge of the game are obvious. He hopes his love of Jesus Christ is as well.

Orlovsky is public about his faith, whether it’s on social media or in the studio. He wears a bracelet on his right wrist that references Proverbs 3:5-6, a verse that says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

“I want people to completely understand that what I am is a walking representation of transformation,” Orlovsky said. “I’m a walking representation of broken. I’m a walking representation of having a relationship with a God that, on a day-to-day basis, lifts me up. On a day-to-day basis, convicts my heart. On a day-to-basis, challenges me to think about things and/or people, not myself. I am not naturally like that, I’m just not.”

Orlovsky’s popularity has grown during his time at ESPN. Part of that has been due to his engagement with fans on Twitter, where he makes a conscious effort to always be a positive interaction. Even NFL teams have reportedly been interested in bringing him on as a coach.

Through all the praise and accolades, though, he says he seeks to approach everything with humility and gratitude — virtues that are grounded in his faith in God.

These are lessons he learned from fellow believers like Jon Kitna, a 15-year NFL veteran whom Orlovsky backed up while playing for the Detroit Lions. There was also former NFL quarterback Josh McCown, whom Orlovsky credits with teaching him what it looked like to have a Christ-centered relationship with other men, be it in the locker room or in the workplace. Orlovsky also credits Dave Wilson, who served as the Lions team chaplain for years and helped Orlovsky get prepared for marriage.

“The easiest way for me [to express humility] is admitting when I’m flawed and admitting when I make mistakes,” Orlovsky said. “We’re in this industry and this world where, candidly, you root for the things that you say. You root for your take or your opinion to be right. I think that’s the competitor in me. In the moments where you say something that, maybe in the moment or the future, is incorrect, admitting that gracefully.”

It also involves actively praising others around him.

“To sit here and think that we don’t have some sort of an impact on those people in the way that we talk to our cast mates, to people that we’re on television with, to people that we’re talking about on television … I think it’s just a grace of saying, ‘Yeah, man, I was wrong,’ and being OK with that,” he said.

With the 2021-22 NFL season over, Orlovsky now turns his attention to breaking down team needs and draft prospects ahead of the NFL draft, which will take place April 28-30.

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