In the 115-degree heat and 80 percent humidity of Qatar, between 12-hour shifts doing communications support for 8,000 special operators in United States Central Command, Carson Bird worked to stay in shape, keeping in mind a picture he made in first grade.
“We were asked what we wanted to be when we grow up – I drew a picture of me playing football and wrote ‘I want to be a professional football player,’” Bird, who played defensive back for Air Force from 2004-2007, said in an email. “I don’t think I could have spelled it more wrong but she framed it anyway.”
When his six-month tour is over and he returns to the United States in October, Bird plans to chase that dream. Pending Air Force’s approval, he wants to work out for NFL teams shortly after his return.
He said he has received some feedback from some interested NFL teams, and hopes to get a workout when he is in his best football shape. He hopes to sharpen his skills in some competitive flag football leagues in Las Vegas. Even if a tryout doesn’t happen this fall, he hopes to participate in a pro day workout for NFL scouts in March.
“I’ve stayed extremely active,” Bird wrote. “I’ve always had the itch so I’ve kept myself in the gym non-stop.”
He found himself with a couple free hours every day so he has been pushing himself hard. He weighs 202 pounds and said he is stronger than he has ever been. He said he followed a workout plan from former Air Force and NFL player Chris Gizzi, who will continue to train Bird through his tryouts.
Bird and Chad Hall were friends at the academy, and Bird is following Hall’s trail. Hall signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles this year and is battling for a roster spot. Bird said Hall, who he still speaks with as often as he can, has inspired him.
“He truly loves where he is and what he’s doing,” Bird wrote. “I am the same way about ball. I am just waiting for my chance.”
Bird, who led the Mountain West with six interceptions in 2007, could defer his final three years of service to a six-year term in the reserves if he is able to sign a pro contract. Bird said he thinks he has a good chance to get a shot from a NFL team.
“All I need is ONE person to decide they should take a chance on me,” he wrote. “I know me – I know my numbers and I know how I can perform. I know football better than anything in my life … but beyond ALL that – I want this.”