NEW ORLEANS -- Baltimore Ravens strong safety James Ihedigbo has something on his iPhone he'd like to share: It's the app that his teammate and fellow safety Bernard Pollard produced.
Ihedigbo was walking through the conference room Thursday at his team hotel, the Hilton Riverside, when he spotted Pollard talking to reporters and tossed a thumb in his direction. "That's my boy," Ihedigbo said. "His locker is right next to mine, so of course I have his app. It's on my phone right now. Gotta support him."
I stress this so much with young players: 'Don't get caught up in playing the game of football. Don't allow football to define you.' Because life is so much bigger than football.” -- Bernard Pollard, Baltimore Ravens safety
The app in question, Bourre was released by Pollard and business partner Ryan Moats, who was a running back with the Houston Texans. The two were teammates in 2009 and discovered they shared a passion for video games. Moats, who has interned with Electronic Arts, is the code guy, the one who actually writes the game, while Pollard handles, as he puts it, "a little bit of everything" in drumming up business.
At the beginning of the season, the duo released Bourre, a version of the card game popular among NFL players, for $1.99. (It's currently priced at 99 cents.) The app was updated in October, and the accompanying pitch reads, "If you like going all in, then you will love Bourre."
After Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII, where the Ravens play the San Francisco 49ers, Pollard plans to go all in working with Moats -- "get heavy into it and see what comes" -- to develop more apps and possibly expand into other products.
"This just shows people that we can do more than play football," said Pollard, who is in his seventh NFL season. "I stress this so much with young players: 'Don't get caught up in playing the game of football. Don't allow football to define you.' Because life is so much bigger than football."
Pollard played college ball at Purdue, where he studied communications and, briefly, computer technology. His love of all things tech comes from his father, who would encourage Bernard and his brothers to take apart broken computers and then reassemble them. They would hunt down the pieces they needed and figure out how to make it all work again. "That was something my dad instilled in me," Pollard said. "And I'm going to instill it in my son. You have to be able to do more than one thing."
Of course, it doesn't hurt if you can improve on something, too. Bourre -- the actual card game, not the app -- has a bit of a notorious history. The 2010 feud between former Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton started after Arenas mocked Crittenton for dropping $1,000 in a game of Bourre. The argument culminated with Arenas bringing four handguns to practice, for which Arenas was subsequently suspended indefinitely. Pollard also has seen many pro athletes drop serious money playing the game. In developing the app with Moats, Pollard wanted to introduce the game to the mainstream market while also creating a risk-free digital version for guys losing too much money playing the real thing.
(Coincidentally, Bourre is particularly popular in New Orleans. The game, which is about collecting more tricks than your opponents, is believed to have its origins in France.)
For Pollard, the Bourre app is simply the first step in addressing the question, "What's next?" At age 28, he is still in his football prime, a fierce defender known for bruising hits, such as the one that forced New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley to cough up the ball in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game. Pollard has 71 solo tackles this season, and Ravens fans are hoping he'll wreak more havoc on Sunday.
But while Super Bowl champion has a nice ring to it, so does entrepreneur for Pollard.
"It's been an amazing experience," Pollard said of his work with Moats. "The response we've gotten back -- people just love it. That makes me proud right there."