Gables football coach found, reunited with family. His disappearance baffled everyone

Charles Rabin, Devoun Cetoute
·4 min read

The Coral Gables football coach whose disappearance after midnight Tuesday baffled family and friends, was found unharmed in Fort Pierce Friday night, police said.

Miami-Dade police released few details about the recovery of Roger Pollard, 39, only saying he was found by Fort Pierce police and that he was being reunited with his family.

“Our investigation led us to the Fort Pierce area,” Miami-Dade Police Lt. Carlos Rosario said.

The disappearance of Pollard shocked people who knew him.

He apparently had no history of mental illness or any known enemies. His employer said he’s beloved and an “all-around great guy.” And police — who seemed as perplexed as everyone else — had called his vanishing a “possible disappearance” and said there was no indication Pollard was in any trouble.

Some time between 11:55 p.m. Tuesday and 5:12 a.m. Wednesday, Pollard disappeared from his Northwest Miami-Dade home. No one could say for certain if he left in his red Toyota Camry, though the car was missing as well. His wife said their Ring surveillance system, both the doorbell and the floodlight, went dark for five hours and 17 minutes. And the world lost contact with Pollard.

“It doesn’t make sense. He’s such a regimented person,” said Pollard’s wife of six years, Shay Moen. “I just want my husband to come home, safely. My kids need him.”

Lifelong friend Jonathan Vilma, an All-American at the University of Miami who graduated with Pollard from Gables High in 2000 and has known him since second grade, said Pollard was in good spirits when they had lunch in Coconut Grove two weeks ago.

“He said he was really into studying behavioral science for the kids. He was really enjoying it,” said Vilma, now an NFL color analyst with Fox. “There was no sign that anything was amiss.”

Pollard, at well over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, is a man who would tend to stand out in a crowd.

“It’s a big mystery,” said Miami-Dade Police spokesman Angel Rodriguez.

Police and witness accounts seem to indicate that all was well with Pollard up until almost midnight Tuesday, then he just vanished.

Moen said she spent Tuesday night with the couple’s two children at her mom’s house in Broward County. Her mother, she said, was recovering from back-to-back surgeries. She said she spoke with her husband on his way home from school, after he got home and again after she bathed her son and daughter.

Moen said she didn’t know her husband was missing until she received a call from another coach at Gables High at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The coach told her that Pollard had not shown up for work. Calls to her husband’s cellphone went straight to voicemail, she said.

When she got home she said she checked her Ring surveillance system, which showed the Camry in the home’s driveway just before midnight. Then, Moen said, it didn’t activate again until 5:12 a.m. Wednesday. By then, she said, the car was gone.

But Moen said even the timing was unusual. She said, just like clockwork, her husband leaves their home for work every morning between 5:45 a.m. and 6 a.m.

“He’s a regimented person. Very vanilla,” she said. “He doesn’t do anything out of the box.”

Investigators from missing persons looked into the coach’s disappearance and had no reason to believe there was any foul play.

Besides coaching football, Pollard also teaches exceptional student educational classes at Gables High, the very same school he graduated from over two decades earlier. After graduation he went on to play linebacker at North Carolina State. That was followed by a stint as a graduate assistant at Middle Tennessee State, whose defensive coordinator at the time was current UM football coach Manny Diaz.

Pollard, who has worked at Gables High for 12 years, was named the Cavaliers’ head football coach in 2013. His term there was briefly interrupted in 2017 when he left to join Vilma in a business venture. The football great, who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, was operating a restaurant chain called Pincho Factory.

But by 2018, Pollard was back at Coral Gables, once again as its head football coach. Vilma said Pollard left to go back to coaching because “his heart has always been in teaching and motivating.”

“I was doing online school work with the kids at 9:30 when the coach called,” Moen said. “They said he never showed up. Check his sick days. I don’t think he’s ever called in sick. It just doesn’t make sense.”