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 on Ridley, 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 violent hits 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 style.
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 him"
Three games, three Patriots felled for the year by Pollard's aggressive play.
In 2011, Pollard, rolled onto the leg of Rob Gronkowski as he was 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 at full strength.
"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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