Third and 8 is hard. Anquan Boldin can tell you all about the defensive backs who will tug and pull as a receiver tries to find space in traffic.

Catching the ball over the middle is hard. Boldin knows about that, too, the way safeties will attempt to separate a receiver from the football by the force of a collision.

Enduring a big loss is hard. The championship that got away, back when his Cardinals lost to the Steelers in Tampa's last Super Bowl, still gnaws at Boldin.

And so we complain. About this. About that. About everything. It is our nature, a sport unto itself.

But not Boldin.

Not anymore. Not since his trip to Ethiopia, which seems about a million miles from the Super Bowl and the cameras that follow Boldin's every step.

It was March when Boldin and former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald flew to Ethiopia, a poor, dry country. Boldin had read something about the struggles of the Ethiopian people and decided he wanted to help.

"I didn't want to just cut a check," Bol­din said. "I wanted to experience it for myself. I wanted to see what the conditions were.

"I can try to explain it to you, but unless you see it for yourself, you really can't grasp the situation. They're going through one of the worst droughts ever. It's barely rained in three years. There is no water to grow vegetation, no water to drink. Everything is like desert. For people in the United States, it's hard to wrap your mind around that."

For more than a week, Boldin and Fitzgerald stayed. Not many people they met knew who they were or much about the sport they played. But everyone knew they were there to help. They met with officials. They watched classes being taught about farming in arid conditions. And they helped to build retaining walls.

"We weren't over there just to watch," Boldin said. "It's hard. People make about 90 cents a day there. I remember one man who had a wife and six kids, and he had to walk three hours to work each way to start at 8 a.m. Three of his kids worked in the morning, and three went to school. At night, they reversed it. It was the only way they could make it."