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Pollack's vigil nears end

Posted: 8:15 a.m.



The idea is to hang out with David Pollack for the day while he serves what he calls his house arrest cooped up in his suburban Cincinnati home going on three months now.

But Tuesday is bad timing-wise and, besides, what is there to see? He gets up, plays video games, eats lunch and dinner, leafs through "The Bible," talks to the wife when she gets home from school, and watches TV until five or six in the morning to get so dead tired he can fall asleep in his neck brace without thinking about it and "it's like they super glued my eyes shut."

Football is nowhere on the radar except on his TV during the weekends. Even if there is good news next week, there is still a rehab of six to nine months before he can think about getting into contact again, already taking him into next season with a question mark.

"I've got a long way to go," is all he can say when football is mentioned.

But if he's a prisoner of his broken neck that may end his career as soon as next week, he has the freedom to tell you over the phone not to feel sorry for him.

"Really, it's not so bad," he says. "It's almost off, I can't wait and there'll be plenty to do then."

The halo, that hellish contraption screwed into his skull, comes off next Wednesday and then he gets an MRI to find out how well his fractured vertebra has healed. That's when he should know if it's safe for him to play football again, but even with more time on his hands than the Swiss he claims he doesn't think about it.

"All I'm thinking about," he says, "is getting into a hot shower for 30 minutes and getting soaked. Cuddling with my wife. Driving to the store. Doing the normal, little things."

He is enjoying his teammates' playoff run. He has watched every snap but hasn't felt a thing.

He talks to his coaches once a week or so, but hasn't been in a meeting very often. He plays online video games with many of his teammates, but hasn't spent much time with them in person. Every Thursday night he attends the team's Bible study at Paul Brown Stadium after the others have practiced.

He's there, but he's not.

"Hey, I don't expect everyone to be trying to get in touch with me. They're busy. They're playing football," Pollack says. "They don't have time to think about me. I'm sure like you. You go into the locker room not thinking about me, you're looking for somebody to interview. That's just the way it is."

But everybody has to pass his locker that sits next to the locker room entrance, symbolic of his bubbling personality that Marvin Lewis coveted as much as his pass-rush ability when the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft.

If this team is more mature, he may be a reason why. Every time they walk by is a reminder how quickly the game can be taken away.

Eric Ball, the club's director of player development, calls every week. Ken Moyer, the team chaplain and already a close confidant, visits often. Chad Johnson and Sam Adams have matched wits in Madden online. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Tony Stewart, Domata Peko are just some of the bunch that have challenged him online in Halo.

"T.J.'s just glad I'm not there because I'm the man," Pollack says with a laugh. "I beat Sam and Chad. Chad used the Bengals and he was too predictable. He always threw to Chad."

Carson Palmer and his wife gave him the first three seasons of 24 and this is how slow the time oozes by.

"I'm hooked. You know, you watch a couple and it's addictive. It's a great show," Pollack says. "I had my own marathon. Four days."

Maverick and Memphis, his two young Labs, keep him company while wife Lindsey goes to class at the University of Cincinnati. Yes, these are the dog days. They don't want him getting into a car very often because, "If I get into an accident and snap my neck again, it would be bad."

"My wife's unbelievable," Pollack says. "She's at school all day and then goes into the (home) office all night and studies. One week she wrote six papers. She's so busy. And she's a perfectionist. I mean, I didn't have much time when I was playing football, but I would have some down time every day. She never has any."

It is inching toward 5 p.m. and Lindsey wants to know how he wants his dinner cooked. Pasta tonight. Last night it was crab cakes.

"She's a magician in the kitchen," he says.

He's watching the defense shine. He loves football as much as ever and lives for Saturdays and Sundays when DirecTV floods the house with games.

He hopes when the halo comes off and he gets to wear a regular neck brace for the next four weeks he will be able to watch the game on the sidelines.

"Johnathan Joseph is playing great. Caleb Miller is a football player," Pollack says. "We've got a lot of young guys that are really playing well."

The Bible remains his playbook. It's still his main source of reading. The only difference is he reads a little bit more about Job.

"His kids got killed. His ox and sheep and all his land got wiped out," Pollack says. "But he never turned from God. He continued to honor God."

After the pasta, there is another video game to play. The TV will drone on about this and that and then it will be one fewer day until the halo comes off.

"Remember, you're never as good as they say and never as bad as they say," Pollack says, and he could have been talking about a lot of things because he told you not to worry about him.

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