Guest column: Rosh Hashana — A Time For A Winning Attitude, Transformation

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by Ron Kaplan

The following comes courtesy of former NFL player Alan Shlomo 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 alan@alanveingrad.com. To read more and see videos about him, visit www.alanveingrad.com.

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