I'll just start off by saying I'm cleared, I feel great, everything has gone well and I'm ready to go this weekend. I'm looking forward to it. There are tons of reasons to be excited for this game. One, going down to Michigan is always a great game between the two of us. Obviously they won a close one last year. Again, we have a lot to play for too, trying to get that seventh win. I just don't want to get into anything medical and all that stuff, but I'm feeling fine and ready to play.
How tough was it to sit out last week in a crucial time?
Bollinger: It's always very difficult to sit out, but for one, when you know you're kind of coming along in the home stretch and you only have a couple of games left at Camp Randall anyways and you have to sit one of them out, it's tough. Especially when we were struggling some on offense and obviously ended up losing the football game. So it's hard for me to sit anytime, but when things aren't going well, it makes it all that more difficult.
Do you have any reservations about being ready physically?
Bollinger: No, I've always known that these doctors and trainers here, no matter what the injury, they're going to be as precautionary as anyone and always really be on the safe side. Sometimes as an athlete that's frustrating, but I know they'll always take every step to make sure I'm ready to go before they allow me to step on the field.
Do you have a lot of trust in them?
Bollinger: Yeah, they've always done a tremendous job with me, and like I said, they've always been very safe and precautionary and making sure I'm safe to get back on the field.
Have you talked to your dad about all of this?
Bollinger: He didn't really say anything. He's more just like, `What are they telling you?' and stuff like that, `Take it day-by-day.' He's more asking for input and I think if it ever got in a situation where he felt uncomfortable with what I was going to do, then he'd say something to me. But I think my mom is always uncomfortable when I play, since the first game I played in ninth grade or whatever, I don't think she's wanted me to be out there, but that's just the way it is. They've just been supportive of me and want to know what's going on.
Do you remember much from the Mike Pagel hit that knocked you out?
Bollinger: Yeah, I think I have good memory of that.
Does it help that your father has a football background, that he knows this comes with the game?
Bollinger: Yeah, he understands. I think part of it with me is he always tries to stay positive. He knows that sometimes you're going to be put in…he's disappointed that I can't play and he knows that I'm disappointed and he just wants to stay upbeat and keep me on a positive frame of mind.
Are they going to be at the game Saturday?
Bollinger: My dad is. My dad and my little brother.
Did you think you might be cleared last week depending on how you felt?
Bollinger: Yeah, I wasn't sure. I kind of just took it day-by-day, is what I can say. Again, that's what they tell you to do, so I just approached each day as, let's see what they'll let me do today, let's do everything I can and if they tell me to just rest and take it easy for a day, then I'll do that, and if there's something I can do, I'm willing to do it, so just try to prepare myself for whatever they were going to tell me.
Do you just accept the fact there are inherent risks with playing football?
Bollinger: Yeah, I've obviously had a few injuries since I've been here. I had to miss some games and stuff like that, but I've always wanted to play really bad. I wanted to be out on the field and would do anything I could to get out there. But as soon as the doctor said, `Now wait a minute, your liver is messed up, you can't,' I'm not going to fight it at that point. Because I trust that they know what they're talking about it. Now, if they say, `Okay, your ankle is going to be sore but you're going to be able to play and you're not going to hurt yourself physically worse,' great, I'll be on the field. But there is a certain point where you have to say, `You're the doctor, that's why you're here and I'm going to do whatever you tell me to.'
Do you have an explanation for why you've played so well in the first games you've played following an injury?
Bollinger: I don't know, but I hope you guys aren't jinxing it. I think some things are, number one, you just get a little time to step back and see things from another perspective. Once you get into the season and things start to go one way or another, you just start to kind of get tunnel vision and you're grinding it out every day. When you step back and see it from the outside, sometimes it helps you see things a little clearer. Another thing is I think you're fresh and have a little extra bounce in your step maybe. But on the other hand, you could say maybe you get a little rusty. That always worries you. First day back, second day back, you feel a little rusty. But you've been doing it for however many weeks since camp, it doesn't seem like one week of getting a snap, going through all of the footwork and stuff like that would leave you that quickly but some of it actually does. It takes a day or so to kind of feel comfortable again.
Brooks Bollinger Q&A: Part 1
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