Born: February 14, 1978
Town: East Orange
David Douglas Garrard was born February 14, 1978 in East Orange. The family moved to Durham, North Carolina, where David excelled as a football, basketball and baseball player. He was tall and muscular as a teenager, but extremely agile. Playing sports helped David take his mind off his mother’s medical situation. She was diagnosed with cancer and passed away when he was 14.
David enrolled at Southern High School and became the star of the Spartans’ football team. His arm strength was already at a professional level when he earned prep All-America honors as a senior in 1997. David accepted a scholarship from East Carolina University. As a sophomore in 1999, he led the Pirates to a stunning comeback win over the Miami Hurricanes, erasing a 20–3 deficit. ECU went 9–2 and earned a bid to the Alabama Bowl. Prior to the game, the Pirates were ranked nationally, but a loss to LaDainian Tomlinson and TCU bumped them out of the Top 25.
David led his team to bowl games as a junior and senior, too. ECU’s 40–27 victory in the Gallery Furniture Bowl against Texas Tech featured a wild first half in which the Pirates found the end zone five times. David’s final college season saw him put big points on the board, but a leaky defense led to a 6–6 record. His final game was a shootout with Byron Leftwich and Marshall in the GMAC Bowl. Marshall won the game 64–61 in double-overtime. It was the highest-scoring bowl game in history.
David graduated with virtually every ECU passing mark, including 9,029 yards and 60 touchdowns. He also ran for over 1,000 yards and scored 21 times on the ground.
David was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. The plan was to develop him as the successor to Mark Brunell. However, the team drafted Leftwich a year later, and promoted him to a starting role, with David remaining on the bench. Prior to the 2004 season, David underwent an operation to alleviate pain caused by Crohn’s disease. Doctors removed a foot of intestines, but David was able to play—and started after Leftwich went down in the second half of the season.
In 2005, Leftwich also suffered a late-season injury. David led the Jaguars to four wins in their final fives games and a Wild Card berth. Coach Jack Del Rio opted to start Leftwich in the playoff game and Jacksonville lost 28–3 to the Houston Texans. The quarterback shuffle continued until 2007, when the Jaguars released Leftwich at the end of training camp. David led the team to an 11–5 record and another playoff berth, in the process tying a league record for starters with just three intercepted passes. Against the Steelers in the opening round of the postseason, David engineered a last-minute 31–29 victory with a 32-yard scamper that set up the winning field goal. He played well a week later against the Patriots, but Jacksonville lost 31–20.
David spent three more years as the team’s starter and was picked for the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,597 yards in 2009. Unfortunately, Jacksonville did not return to the playoffs. In 2011, the team drafted Blaine Gabbert and released David. He decided to take the season off so he could recover from various injuries. He signed with the Dolphins for the 2012 but injured his knee in the preseason and was cut. David signed with the Jets in 2013 and was activated at the end of October as a backup to Geno Smith. He saw limited action and did not complete a pass.
After David signed his first pro contract he started the David Garrard Foundation to promote breast cancer awareness and research in memory of his mother. He also makes appearances at events raising money and awareness for Crohn’s Disease.