Bernard Pollard Rants and Raves About the Bounty Punishments and the NFL’s Crackdown on Violence: “This is Not Powderpuff Football”April 4, 2012 – 6:00 am by Brad Gagnon
The New Orleans bounty scandal isn’t going away. Four penalties handed down from the league office are being appealed, and the fallout will only build when players are punished in the near future. As a result, new players continue to come forward with their perspectives on “Bountygate.” Considering his history as a hard-hitting safety, his current home of Baltimore and his penchant for telling it like it is, Bernard Pollard is naturally someone to go to.
Pollard had been strangely quiet…until now.
Bernard Pollard joined Josh Innes and Rich Lord on KILT in Houston to discuss the bounty scandal, the NFL’s crackdown on violent hits and injuries and the future of the league based on current trends.
His thoughts on the way in which Roger Goodell has handled the bounty scandal:
“You don’t wanna tell somebody how to do their job, especially somebody in the head office. But it’s gotten way out of hand, and it really has gotten way out of hand. You’re penalizing a coach for coming out of his pocket to say, ‘If somebody hits this guy — not hit him illegally, hit him — and take him out’ … First game we played Houston Texans they (played) without Andre Johnson. We were happy. You know what I’m saying? It’s just one of those things where nobody’s trying to be mean, but at the end of the day if you don’t have a good player, that is a edge you have to win, or to help your offense. So it’s gotten way out of hand.”
On the league marketing the violence and condemning it at the same time:
“Not to say anything against Roger Goodell, but you look at it, that’s been the problem — I shouldn’t say problem, but that’s been the issue — with him when he got in office. You’re coming down on players for going in and making hits. Well, you wanna tell a guy, ‘Well, don’t hit a guy helmet-to-helmet’ but when we going in there as a player we have one second, not even a second, to figure out where we’re going to hit him at. Well, when a receiver catches the ball, he’s trying to get to the ground. But we were already in that position first — now … helmet-to-helmet, but now you’re penalizing the defender and give them 15 yards plus the reception. It’s getting out of hand. This is not powderpuff football, this is not flag football. This is a violent sport. And it’s a fun sport — we all love playing this game. And we’re blessed by God to even go out there and display our talent to the world, but at the same time you can’t sit there and say, ‘We want guts, we want glory, we want heart.’ You can’t give a player heart but at the end of the day you tell him, “Well, hold on but be careful when you go to make that hit.’ We wear helmets and shoulder pads. That means you’re supposed to go knock somebody around. We ain’t wearing flags.”
What he thinks the commissioner’s ultimate goal is:
“From what I see we’re gonna be running around with helmets and flags on, and I guess in about seven years. So like I said, it’s getting out of hand. I don’t know what he’s trying to prove, I don’t know what the NFL office is trying to prove. Guys are getting hit all the time. We get hit. This is a freaking violent sport. We get hit. So I don’t know what you’re trying to prove by telling us — I could understand if people were maliciously going after people, hitting them in the face. But as defenders, man, that’s why we are a defender, because we’re protecting something. We’re protecting our end zone.”
On if he believes the commissioner actually cares about player safety:
“I think they do care about our safety, but at the end of the day he’s coming in and talking about safety — well we want safety, but this is a violent sport. You’ve got companies coming in, doing better helmets, doing better shoulder pads to be able to take the hits or whatever. But you can’t penalize these guys, especially when it’s so blatant that it was not done on purpose. You know, I’m talking about penalties that took place in a game. But they haven’t been done on purpose, man, but you’re penalizing the guys. The refs are just throwing the flags because that’s what they were told to do.”
On Sean Payton’s year-long suspension and impending punishments for the players involved:
“This is a game, this is a violent game. You can’t take this away. You suspend a man for a whole year? You suspend a man for a whole year and now you’re looking for players to suspend? This is outrageous. You’ve gotta be kidding me. He said he was gonna take a dollar (during) the lockout, I guarantee you he didn’t take a dollar that year. I guarantee you he got every bit of that (inaudible) mill.”
On if he’s OK with bounties:
“I don’t care if you do a bounty or not, because me — the way I’m playing — I’m going to hit you straight in the mouth. And if you have a concussion by me hitting you in the mouth … You know what? I don’t mean to. I’m not meaning to hurt you, but this is my game. It’s my life or your life, it’s my family or yours. Not saying we’re trying to kill each other but we’re playing for something.
On if the increased emphasis on player safety and the stricter rules is changing the way the Ravens play:
“We will not change the way we play. No matter how many flags you throw, we’re not changing the way we play the game of football. This game was built on hard-nosed, tough players — guys that come out and got teeth in their mouth going out there and still hitting people, losing teeth, getting fingers cut off. And this is what our game is built on. And this is why fans love this game. They love the game because they love to see the hits, they love to see the competition.”
On if he considers the evidence — in cases such as Jim McMahon’s — that former players are suffering dearly from the debilitating effects of the violence he’s celebrating:
“I’m one of those players where I always think about this stuff. I always think about life after football. I always think about medically what’s happening to so many players around this league. And like I said, we’re blessed to play this game. I go out there and I give praise to God every single time. And I’m not saying that it’s gonna hold me back from being injured, because we’re going out there and we’re running around. But it’s tough to be able to see players go down like that, it’s tough to see what’s going on. But I think we’re so advanced right now with some of the equipment, and the equipment and everything we’re using now than what they used before … So it’s really tough to see these guys in their positions, and I think the NFL oughta be doing something about it. I think they are. So, but it is tough. It’s really hard seeing that stuff.”
On if he can see the NFL’s popularity declining:
“I think it can maybe decline. Because, if you continue telling people what they can’t do, all you can do, what you can do, what you can’t do — you can’t play the game thinking. And that’s what they have a lot of these players around the NFL — a lot of players are thinking now. When they go to make a tackle, they’re thinking, they’re trying to figure out how to go hit the player. And then (inaudible) missing the tackles, and you got touchdowns. And you’ve got guys getting fired because they’re not making tackles and because they’re scared to get fined. Everybody don’t make a million dollars. Everybody’s not millionaires in this league.”