Davey Pollack's football career, one of the most decorated ever for a Gwinnett County athlete, likely will have an early end because of a broken neck suffered nearly two years ago.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis confirmed at his Tuesday press conference that the Shiloh graduate and former Georgia Bulldogs star is headed toward retirement. The 25-year-old broke the C-6 vertebra in his neck while making a tackle on Sept. 17, 2006, but hoped to recover enough to resume his NFL career.
Lewis said Pollack told him last week that he wasn't comfortable with the neck medically despite being cleared to play, according to a Bengals release.
"He spent some time with me well over a week ago and that's where it was headed," Lewis said at a press conference. "It's a tough, tough decision for his family ... (but) he's going to have an outstanding life. ... We know the quality of the person. He's got such a bright future in whatever he does."
Kelli Pollack, Pollack's mother, said the family preferred not to comment on an official retirement. But she did say her son's future is bright, even if he isn't on the football field.
Pollack worked as a broadcaster for SEC football games last fall and also has mentioned going into coaching. He and his wife Lindsey are expecting their first child this summer.
"He's an awesome guy," Kelli Pollack said. "There's more to life (than football)."
Pollack's outstanding football career started at Shiloh as he helped the Generals to the 2000 state quarterfinals, capping off what is still the best season in school history. But his stardom truly took off in college.
A relentless pursuer as a defensive end, the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder joined Herschel Walker as Georgia's only three-time All-Americans. He was a first-round pick, No. 17 overall, by the Bengals in 2005. He was converted to a linebacker in the NFL, but never matched his college results.
Pollack did have 4.5 sacks as a rookie, but broke his neck in just the second game of the 2006 season when he hit Cleveland running back Reuben Droughns. Doctors had hoped for a recovery without surgery, but they were forced to perform surgery on the broken bone on Jan. 3, 2007.
He suffered no paralysis from the injury and resumed his normal activities, but hasn't returned to football.
"It's sad, but I know David Pollack isn't going to be sad," Bengals offensive tackle Willie Anderson, a 13-year veteran, said in the team's release. "He's the kind of guy that is going to be successful in anything he does. It's a loss for his teammates because everybody liked his energy and enthusiasm. He never changed from college."
A message left at Pollack's Ohio home on Tuesday afternoon wasn't returned.