The controversy surrounding Ravens' DB Bernard Pollard's
Patriots RB Stevan
The NFL handed down a reported
$15,250 fine to Pollard for his helmet-to-helmet contact with WR Wes Welker in the
Patriots - Ravens AFC Championship game on Sunday. But,
the league chose to ignore the vicious helmet-to-helmet hit
a hit that not only caused a controversial fumble, but
also knocked the
Patriots' running back out with a concussion.
After the game, Pollard was praised by Ravens' coach John Harbaugh for
his hit on Ridley.
“That was the turning point of the game,” Harbaugh said. “It was just a
tremendous hit. It was football at its finest. It was Bernard Pollard
making a great physical tackle — just as good a tackle as you’re ever
going to see in football right there."
Harbaugh's comments seem out of sync with league's claims that it
values player safety. Considering the league is currently
being sued by
Junior Seau's family for not doing enough to guard against
that cause concussions, Harbaugh's praise of Pollard's hit appears to
fly in the face of the league's push towards a safer game.
Pollard is no stranger to controversial hits. In 2008 as a member of
the Kansas City Chiefs,
Pollard rolled into the plant leg of Tom Brady
while he was passing causing severe knee ligament damage to the
quarterback, and ending his season. The following year, the league
implemented an emphasis
of the rule forbidding defenders from hitting quarterbacks low. The
rule is commonly referred to as the Brady rule.
Pollard was unfazed by the ruling, and continued his aggressive hitting
As a member of the Texans in the final game of the 2009 season,
Pollard was involved in another injury play.
Pollard's play, a tackle of Patriots WR Wes Welker, resulted
in a torn ACL for
Welker which ended his season.
"I heard Wes yell out, the same way I heard
Tom yell. It was the same yell," Pollard told SI.com at the time. "He
went down right in front of me. I saw his knee buckle, then I fell on
Three games, three Patriots felled for the year by Pollard's aggressive
In 2011, Pollard, rolled onto the leg of Rob Gronkowski as
tackling the Patriots tight end in the AFC Champinship game. Although
it was a coincidental injury on the play, some argued Pollard's style
of tackle caused the injury. It was an important moment for
New England as the injury caused Gronkowski to miss a portion of the
Championship game vs Baltimore -- a game New England ultimately won.
The injury also caused Gronkowski to be limited in
the Super Bowl vs the New
York Giants, a
game New England lost -- in part -- because Gronkowski's ankle wasn't
"My gosh, it's Pollard again," said CBS' Jim Nantz who was calling the
AFC Championship game for CBS.
As Nance noted, it was Pollard again sending another Patriots player to
the locker room with an injury. Pollard's propensity for being in the right (wrong) place at the right (wrong) time was increasing each
season, evident not only to Nance, but the rest of the audience as well.
Not one to be the subject of criticism on his own, Pollard went on the attack this week against the Patriots for what Pollard thought was an unsportsmanlike hit in the championship game.
Pollard called out Tom Brady earlier in the week for his aggressive slide in last Sunday's game at Gillette. Brady's slide, with his leg held high to ward off defenders, took
out Ravens defender Ed
Reed in the leg on the play. Brady apologized to
Reed for the hit, but was
subsequently fined $10K by the league for injuring another player.
Like Pollard's hit on Ridley, no flag was thrown on the play, and it
was not considered an illegal hit.
Pollard continues to defend his style of play despite the criticism, or
threat of fines from the league.
"I protect. Someone comes in who's unwanted, and you see what happens.
The switch goes on. Football is a violent sport, and sometimes bad
things happen," Pollard told CBS's Clark Judge.
"Some people don't like it. But at the end of the day, I've got to feed
my family, and this is how I do it."
Perhaps, feeding his family shouldn’t come at the expense of others being able to feed theirs. Perhaps the league should treat
all unsportsmanlike hits the same. Perhaps nothing should be done as this is the way football was supposed to be played.
Pollard's Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in
New Orleans two Sunday's from now. He has one more game in which to play aggressively, with the support of his head coach. The question then will be; what does Harbaugh's brother Jim think of Pollard's style?
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