Jewish Cowboy (and Packer)
Alan Veingrad spent seven seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman, playing for the Green Bay Packers (1986-90) and then the Dallas Cowboys (1991-92) where he won a Super Bowl ring. Veingrad played nearly every position on the line, blocking for Emmitt Smith and protecting Troy Aikman. Smith presented Veingrad with a Rolex watch after the running back won the NFL rushing title.
Veingrad played alongside many Christians in the NFL and at East Texas State University in the heart of the Bible belt, but few of his teammates shared his Jewish heritage. As he put it: “In the rough and tumble environment of an NFL team, a Jew is an outsider.” Though he always considered himself a Jew, Veingrad didn’t embrace Orthodox Judaism until after he left professional sports.
Q: Tell me about your faith.
Veingrad: I was born Jewish. It was instilled in me at a young age that there is a God. The Jewish religion focuses a lot on family and holidays and getting together. I didn’t know a lot about the spirituality aspects of it. I couldn’t really talk about all the different holidays and what they mean until years after I started to look into it and I realized it is the most inspirational thing that I ever learned. It’s all about inspiration. Every holiday and every Shabbat there’s always a Torah portion associated with it. There’s so much inspiration. I thought it was all about history. God said to Moses this, Moses said to God that, and God said to Abraham this, Abraham said to God that.
I didn’t know that there was inspirational messages sprinkled in throughout all aspects of Judaism. And as an athlete, I was focused on inspiration. As an athlete, I read books about inspiration. As an athlete, I listed to motivational tapes about inspiration, about motivation, about being positive. And now as an adult and starting to understand that Judaism is so focused on the positive, I said sign me up. The Torah is mine as a Jew. I want to know about it.
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