Bollinger hopes to end streak of unlucky openers

Season openers haven't treated Brooks Bollinger well over the past two years. Last season, he ended up in a hospital where a nurse informed him his football season was over. Two years ago, the Shoe Box scandal broke hours before game time. Bollinger is hoping the FSU game Friday night will be a different story.

Brooks Bollinger will get a much different look at Fresno State Friday night. While most veteran players are facing the Bulldogs for the second time in as many years, Bollinger's only memories of the FSU game last year are from the sidelines.

Last year when the Badgers played Fresno State, Bollinger was coming off a liver contusion in the second quarter of the season opener against Virginia, after falling on the nose of the football. Those are not memories he enjoys revisiting.

While Bollinger was able to play two weeks later in the Big Ten opener against Penn State, he wasn't anywhere near ready to play against the Bulldogs.

"I couldn't really say anything at that point. It was kind of like, well, you could die if you play," Bollinger said. "There wasn't a lot of leeway. If it was my ankle or something, I woud have (lobbied). But they kind of said, there's this big artery right here, and it's pretty close to it, so we don't really know what could happen."

When Bollinger thinks back to 2001's season opener, he has nightmares of the first words that came out of the nurse that treated him at a local hospital.

"She came in and said, `You have a contusion of your liver. You're not going to be playing any football this year,'" Bollinger said.

Bollinger could hardly believe his ears, and the news had yet to truly sink in, when a second doctor came in and gave him a better outlook.

"He came in and was more realistic, and said, we don't know how long it's going to be," Bollinger said. "He drew a picture and (showed) how close (the contusion) was to the artery, a couple of centimeters. He said, `If it gets into it, that we might not be able to stop the bleeding.' It was one of those things where, tell me when it's alright, and I'll start lobbying to play. But until then, I really don't want to be bleeding out of my liver."

Season openers haven't treated Bollinger very kindly over the past two years. The previous season, hours before the game, the Badgers learned about the Shoebox scandal that rocked the entire athletic department and nearly cost them a game against Western Michigan.

Not to mention the heat on the field.

"That is not a great memory," Bollinger said. "That is the hottest field I have ever played on."

But Bollinger hopes to put memories of two horrible season openers behind him in what he expects to be an electric atmosphere Friday night at Camp Randall.

"For some reason, it's a little more cranked up when it's a night game at Camp Randall," Bollinger joked. "I enjoy playing at night. Most people play high school at night, and I always enjoyed playing under the lights. It seems to add a little spark to everything, so I'm looking forward to it."

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