A few weeks back, Brooks Bollinger gave an interview to the Grand Forks Herald in which he announced his retirement from professional football.
The former Vikings quarterback, 31, spent the past two years playing for the Florida Tuskers of the United Football League and after dealing with injuries this past season decided he had had enough. Plus, Bollinger's wife is expecting the couple's third child and their two boys are 2 and 4 year olds. Bollinger figured he would spend the coming weeks with his family at their home in Eagan and plan his next move.
But that was before the native North Dakotan got a call from Hill-Murray activities director Bill Lechner, who had seen the story about Bollinger's plan to stop playing. The two met and now Bollinger will take over as Hill-Murray's football coach.
"I was just kind of taking a breath and seeing what was out there and at least for the time being I wanted to stay in the area," Bollinger said. "I just went over there to sit down with him kind of seeing what he's all about and it was just a perfect fit. Just to get an opportunity to be a part of that school. I just couldn't pass it up."
Bollinger, who played for the Vikings from 2006 until he was released in August 2008, is the son of longtime football coach Rob Bollinger, who spent many years as the offensive coordinator at the University of North Dakota.
"I would say on some level I probably wanted to be a coach before I wanted to be a player," Brooks Bollinger said. "Playing was always fun but really I was always around my dad and his staff and always looked up to those guys, as well as the players, and was around them a ton. ... I always knew that [coaching] was something that I'd like to do."
Bollinger said he gave thought to coaching at the college or pro level but likes the fact working at the high school level will be easier on his family -- "You can stay in one place for a greater period of time, you can be part of the community," Bollinger said -- and also the fact he can have a major influence on kids.
Bollinger, a sixth-round pick of the Jets in 2003, also played in the NFL for the Cowboys in 2008 before going to the UFL. He led Florida to a 6-0 record and the league championship game in 2009 en route to being named MVP of the league.
Things did not go as well for Bollinger in 2010 as he injured his neck, sternum and hand all in the same game. Bollinger's hand never fully recovered and he was replaced by Chris Greisen in early November.
"I'm done playing," said Bollinger, who appeared in seven games and started once for the Vikings. "Regardless of the situation that came up or 'what ifs' there is no situation that I would play again. I obviously love the game. I love playing and I was fortunate to play as long as I did."
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