Owings Mills, Md. – The past year or so has been a rough one for some current and former players in the National Football League, with the topic of concussions and the financial stability of retired players among the major challenges facing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“You hear so many people say what athletes can’t do (such as) football players can only play football (or) when they are done (playing) they go broke. That is not me at all,” Bernard Pollard said. “I enjoyed college. For me it is about learning. There are so many things I want to do.”
To that end Pollard, a graduate of South Side High School and former Purdue standout, has been involved in some off-the-field pursuits since the end of last season. Earlier this year he and his wife, Meghan, and some friends took a vacation to Turks and Caicos Islands.
Then last month he and Ryan Moats, a former teammate with Houston, teamed up to come up with a game called Bourre, which is pronounced Boo-Ray. The game allows people to learn card games without betting money and is available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, according to The Baltimore Sun.
“I have been seeing guys around the league playing cards the last seven years,” Pollard said. “A lot of my family on my dad’s side played cards. Ryan and I wanted to bring people together. He is the developer and we teamed up. It has been a great success. I want people out there to have fun with it.”
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to do something like this,” he added. “My father always had games in the house. My brother and I were always playing games. It is exciting; it is really a blessing.”
Moats told The Baltimore Sun: “This helps players access fans and gives them another point of view.”
Pollard said the game shows that he can make a solid transition to another phase of life after his NFL career is done. “The window is small. The window is really closing,” he said of playing pro ball. “I always want to have a plan. God has blessed me to do different things.”
But for now his focus is on the 2012 season, which begins for Baltimore by hosting Monday Night Football against division foe Cincinnati. The Ravens play four games in the first 18 days of the season.
“It is going to be a test,” he said. “We have to stick to what we know and that is to play Ravens’ football. Four games in 18 days, that is a lot of hitting. We have to rest up (in between games). We have to get our sleep. We have to be attentive and know exactly what the job is in front of us.”
“Our players will be excited,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said of playing on MNF. “Monday night is always fun. We’re looking forward to it.”
The Baltimore defense will have to contend Monday night with quarterback Andy Dalton of the Bengals.
“I’ve said from the get-go that I think Andy Dalton is a great quarterback,” Pollard said recently. “For him to be as young as he is and to lead that team the way he has been leading them, he has done a great job with them. He only is getting better. This is the second year he is under center. I think the guy is a great signal-caller. He goes in there, he demands respect from his teammates, and he goes out there and he throws that pigskin.”
Before the game tonight, the Ravens will honor former owner Art Modell, who passed away in a Baltimore hospital at the age of 87 last Thursday. Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and was also instrumental in the advent of Monday Night Football, which began when the Browns hosted the New York Jets and quarterback Joe Namath in the first MNF game Sept. 21, 1970.
“When Mr. Modell came to practice (last year) he was out there and focused and learning,” Pollard said. “He was a guy who knew the game. He knew the game inside and out. He knew the business aspect of the game. What I know now is a man who was dedicated to what he did. It motivates and inspires me. Everyone told him what he couldn’t do. He came in and changed the game. His whole vision is amazing.”
Last year Pollard, 27, had 62 tackles and one interception and Baltimore advanced to the AFC title game before losing to New England. He played in 18 games, with 13 starts, and now has 388 tackles in a pro career that began in 2006 with Kansas City after he was drafted in the second round out of Purdue.
Eric DeCosta, the assistant general manager of the Ravens, said last month that Pollard not only brought a hard-hitting approach to the Ravens last season but also aided the clubhouse atmosphere.
Pollard was asked by reporters if playing safety is the biggest concern with replacement referees?
“As far as safety, I think that’s something that we’ve been knocking the last couple of years is safety,” he said. “I think us as players, we want safety, but we understand that this is a violent sport. You have big men who run fast and who lift weights, running into each other. You are going to have problems, whether it’s concussions, whether it’s broken bones, it doesn’t matter. Guys are going to get hurt. We can’t stop that, and we’re not going to stop it. This has been going on from the beginning of this game, and they were playing with no facemask. They were playing with no helmets, with leather helmets, if that. You’re not going to stop it. You’re not going to stop the violence of it, because year-in and year-out, they want bigger, faster and stronger. If you are going to have, if you want that, if you are going to pay for that, you are going to have the injuries as well.”