Bernard Pollard predicts the death of the NFL.
Bernard Pollard has made quite an impression on the media in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
On Saturday we posted his affinity for taking a full-frontal approach to interviews.
On Sunday comes the word that Pollard does not see a long-term future for the game as a whole.
He told CBS writer Clark Judge that change is on the horizon.
“Thirty years from now,” he said, “I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.
“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”
But in the meantime, Pollard is stating that the game will only get more vicious.
“The league is trying to move in the right direction [with player safety],” Pollard said, “but, at the same time, [coaches] want bigger, stronger and faster year in and year out. And that means you’re going to keep getting big hits and concussions and blown-out knees. The only thing I’m waiting for … and, Lord, I hope it doesn’t happen … is a guy dying on the field. We’ve had everything else happen there except for a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks.
“Like I said, I pray it never happens, but you’ve got guys who are 350 pounds running 4.5 and 4.4s, and these owners and coaches want scout-run blockers and linemen to move walls. At the same time, they tell you, ‘Don’t hit here, and don’t hit there, or we’ll take your money.’ Like I said, I hope I’m wrong, but I just believe one day there’s going to be a death that takes place on the field because of the direction we’re going.”
Will these thoughts impact the way that Pollard plays football? After all he has been nicknamed the Patriot Killer for the number of injuries that he has laid on New England.
“It’s not going to change the way I play,” he said. “I’ve been taught to play one way my whole career, my whole life, and I’ve never been a malicious player. I play the game hard and physical, just the way our defense does. You can’t play it any other way because it means you’re thinking. And in a fast-paced game, you can’t play that way.
“I know who I am. So does my family and my teammates. Like I said, I’ve never been a malicious player. If you ever get a chance to meet me outside of football, I’m a cool dude who loves to laugh and loves to have fun. But I’m an old-school player who is going to hit you and who loves to tackle and is going to continue to do what I can to help the team.
“We are defenders. And when I talk to people I ask them, ‘How would you behave if someone kicks in the door and is going to come into your house? Let’s see how you defend your house; let’s see how you react.’
“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. 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.”
As long as there is a NFL, somebody will do it. 30 years from now another hard hitter will sit back and lament the same bleak outcast.