Titans' Pollard getting into business spirit with tray invention
Tennessee Titans safety Bernard Pollard is already getting a head-start on life after the NFL -- in the form of producing and marketing his patented smart tray invention.
Safety Bernard Pollard (12 interceptions) has carved out an interesting NFL career over the last eight seasons, patrolling the last line of defense for the Chiefs (2006-08), Texans (2009-10), Ravens (2011-12) and Titans (2013).
Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports
By Greg Pogue
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard has been called a lot of things during his eight-year NFL career.
But inventor isn't one that quickly comes to mind.
Team leader? Sure, Pollard landed last year with the Titans via free agency with a vengeance, immediately taking a strong vocal role with the overall group. He also backed it up by leading the club in tackles, thus earning a two-year deal this spring (up to $6.4 million).
Super Bowl champion? Two seasons ago, Pollard was the top tackler for a nasty defense that played a large part in the Ravens winning the Lombardi Trophy. His bone-jarring and fumble-forcing hit on Patriots running back Stevan Ridley remains the signature play from that AFC title game.
Hard hitter and/or dirty player? If he's your guy, then Pollard plays with reckless abandon that is infectious for defensive teammates. If he's not, then he often plays out-of-bounds with questionable hits (three total) that earned him roughly $67,000 in fines last year -- including $42,000 for his shot on Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.
Inventor? Yes, it's true. Through his business Style Pro 31, Pollard has designed, patented, produced and marketed his invention called the Style Pro 31 Smart Tray -- a portable, lightweight foldout tray that fits most pedestal and traditional sinks, providing up to 288 square inches of additional counter space.
It was designed for use in homes, apartments, dorm rooms, hospitals, assisted-living facilities, hotels, cruise ships and other travel applications. And it came from an idea he had while living in Baltimore with wife, Meghan, and son, Jaylen.
"Being on the East Coast," Pollard said, "it was all pedestal sinks and a lot of tile in your homes around the (bathroom) area. We had no space to do anything. I just kind of started drawing up stuff.
"I'm not an artist, so I had to hire somebody to actually draw it. And the guy did a phenomenal job. Once we finalized how we wanted it to look, we went and started getting trademarks and the patents."
Pollard felt like that process took forever, but the Smart Tray is now available at StylePro31.com and has been a huge success. In fact, Pollard has another patent pending for the Smart Tray and is busy developing other products, as well.
"We, as people, we tend to come up with a lot of things in our head," Pollard said. "Some things are crazy. Some things may actually work and be a help to others. But I think it's that fear of not wanting to put the money in, not wanting to put the time in and then get no results."
Similar to his focus on the field, Pollard attacked his business venture with the same energy, although it couldn't come fast enough.
"That's a long process, because as a football player, I want things done now," Pollard said of getting the patents through the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C. "But people you're dealing with higher up, they want to take their time and make sure nobody has this product, nobody has the name, nothing's going to clash.
"Now that we have one patent, we have another one pending on this product, and we're trying to get this thing to roll."
Pollard admitted to having his doubters in the business world.
"So many people look at me and say, 'Oh, well, you didn't do this by yourself,'" he said. "I had it done all by myself. Of course, I didn't draw anything or go do the injection molds. But as far as the idea to go do it, it's phenomenal to just see the product come to fruition and just see people have it."
Of course, Pollard is still all about football, especially with the Titans reporting to training camp on July 26. Two weeks after that on Aug. 9, Tennessee hosts Green Bay in the preseason opener.
Pollard is most excited about the coaching change (head coach Ken Whisenhunt) and the move to a 3-4 defensive alignment under coordinator Ray Horton. The Titans added several key defensive players through free agency, including former Broncos defenders Wesley Woodyard and Shaun Phillips at linebacker.
"Some of the guys were kind of hesitant with the 3-4 and how things were going to look on offense," said Pollard, "but it was the best thing to happen to this team. This is what we needed.
"We had to do something to change it. We're going to attack a lot of people. We're going to hit some people off guard, but that's what we want."
Entering his ninth NFL season, the former second-round pick of the Chiefs (2006) still has plenty of football left in the tank. Certainly, the new deal with Titans gives him short-term security after playing three seasons for the Chiefs (2006-08), two for the Texans (2009-10) and two with the Ravens (2011-12), before joining the Titans last year.
"The window of football is closing," said Pollard, who has 718 career tackles, including a career-high 142 last season, to go with 12 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles. "But it's not closing yet because the passion and everything is still there, and I am still capable of running."
But life after football for Pollard is already being mapped, thanks to his entrepreneurial interests.