— Bertrand Berry didn’t hit the town and rip it up back on December 31, 2000. He wasn’t looking forward to the start of a new year. He was looking straight at the end of his NFL career.
Released by the Indianapolis Colts after the 1999 season, the only action he’d seen in 2000 was with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimoes. And they released him. But New Year’s Day 2001 really was a new start. Berry worked out for the Broncos, got signed and saved his career.
Now, eight seasons later, the 34-year-old defensive end has played in a Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl. And this week, he’ll be on Sunday Night Football as his Cardinals play the Indianapolis Colts. We got Irrelevant with B-Train.
Q: What were you thinking that day when you worked out for the Broncos?
A: We were at the Broncos complex at Dove Valley. We were inside the (practice) bubble and I remember talking with (former Broncos personnel man and current Texans GM) Rick Smith beforehand and I remember him telling me, ‘We need some guys to come in and give us a look during (practices). We can’t make any guarantees but we will give you a shot if you perform well.’ At that point, my career was on life support. It was either get signed by them or don’t play anymore. I put everything I had into that workout and when I was finished, he gave me a contract for future consideration that day. I made an impression on him. And I swore I would never be in that situation again and by the grace of God, I’ve been able to stay out of that situation.
Q: You were a third-round pick out of Notre Dame by the Colts in 1997. How’d that all happen?
A: I don’t know and I don’t care. Everything happens for a reason and even though it was a tough time it was really a blessing in disguise. I don’t regret anything in my career. The experiences that I had everywhere I’ve been have made me the player I’ve become. I wouldn’t give any of them back. And if I had to do it again, I’d do it the exact same way because it’s been one heck of a ride. And I’ve enjoyed every minute.
Q: Being a Notre Dame guy, are you behind the work so far of Charlie Weis?
A: I believe Coach Weis is doing things to make the team better each year. You have to tip your hat to him. He had a rough stretch there for a while but every program goes in cycles and it’s tough for one program to stay on top. Everyone anticipated there would be down times at Notre Dame and unfortunately it was on his watch. I think, if he gets the right amount of time to turn things around, he will. And he’s got my support.
Q: You lost consecutive seasons — 2006 and 2007 — to triceps tears. You must have been wondering what was going on.
A: It wasn’t just that. I had a pectoral tear the year before those. Then the triceps were against the same player (Jeff Backus), same stadium, against the same team (Lions), on almost the same date. I was scratching my head saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ To have the season cut short three straight years with what really weren’t classic football injuries? I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It was tough. There was a lot of soul searching, frustration, self-doubt, to be honest. I wasn’t sure how my career was going to go after that.
Q: You’re involved in so many different charities. How do you possibly find the time?
A: You make time for what’s important to you. And me and my wife giving back to the community is something that’s very important. Her being a cancer survivor herself has definitely meant that we do our part in continuing those efforts to make that disease go away.
Q: Is there a song on your iPod that might surprise some people?
A: Absolutely. It’s called “True” by Spandau Ballet. Classic cut. I’m an ’80s kid so I grew up listening to all that techno, electronic stuff — Thompson Twins — that’s me all day long. Lots of players wouldn’t think NFL players like that stuff, but I like that ’80s soft rock.
Q: When was the last time you cried at a movie?
A: Recently. I’m kind of a sap. I cry pretty easy at movies. I can’t remember which one it was but I’m an emotional cat. I cry at commercials. What do you want me to do?
Q: Big game Sunday night with the Colts. Are you guys prime-time players?
A: I think we’re prime-time players. But we have to back it up. One thing about prime-time players is they’re always prime-time, not just when it’s convenient and when things are going well. They have to be able to step up at crucial moments.
Q: So, when did you sit down and watch that Super Bowl between your Cardinals and the Steelers from last February?
A: I haven’t done that. I won’t do it. It’s too painful for me. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that one.