Anquan Boldin plays with a permanent scowl, but don't let that fool you. He's in a happy place.
The Baltimore Ravens' wide receiver has encouraged teammates to embrace the atmosphere surrounding Super Bowl week. Four years ago, he didn't do so before his Arizona Cardinals lost 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
"Happier? Yeah," Boldin told The Arizona Republic's Kent Somers. "I'm able to go out and play and be me. I don't have to worry about the contract. Coach (John) Harbaugh talks about it all the time: Let your light shine, be yourself. They really allow you to do that, so I'm happy for that."
Boldin and the Cardinals were in negotiations for a contract extension back in 2008. He eventually was traded to the Ravens before the 2010 season as Boldin and the Cardinals made accusations. Boldin blamed coach Ken Whisenhunt for getting involved in front-office matters. The Cardinals reportedly claimed agent Drew Rosenhaus didn't give Boldin their best offer. Things boiled over when Boldin went off on offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the sideline during the NFC Championship Game and didn't participate in the Cardinals' on-field celebration after the win.
The Ravens benefited from the breakup. Boldin remains a beast in the passing game despite a lack of breakaway speed. He caught 65 balls for 921 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season and moves the chains with freakish hand strength and body control. He compliments the home-run hitter in Torrey Smith. The San Francisco 49ers can't allow Boldin to make tough catches in tight coverage if they're going to stop the Ravens' offense from extending drives Sunday. Those balls have to be knocked down.
Boldin had a last piece of advice for his team.
"The one thing I took away from my first Super Bowl is you don't want to walk away not holding that trophy," Boldin said. "That's something that sits with you, something that for me, it's bugged me since that day. I'm glad I'm able to get back here and try to make right on that."
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.