With the Patriots looming, Ravens S Bernard Pollard discusses his response when fans call him “The Brady Killer”
For years, major Patriots injuries have had one constant — Bernard Pollard was either involved or had a front-row seat for them. Think about it.
When Tom Brady tore his ACL, it was Pollard with the Chiefs who slammed into his left knee. When Wes Welker tore his ACL, Pollard with the Texans was inches away from drilling him. And last year, when TE Rob Gronkowski suffered a brutal high-ankle sprain leading up to the Super Bowl, it was Pollard with the Ravens who brought him down (left). Three different teams for Pollard, three different injuries to Patriots.
Yikes. It’s no wonder that he’s considered one of the all-time Patriots villains by fans. There are even T-Shirts honoring, um, his work. Well, with the Pats and Ravens set to meet in a big-time showdown on Sunday, I caught up with Pollard to talk about it. He recently helped develop an App for the popular card game Bourre (found here), and we’ll talk about that in a bit, too. But first…
What does Pollard think about being hated by Patriots fans? Though he has expressed ambivalence at his reputation in the past, Pollard said in this interview that he doesn’t celebrate any injuries.
“Anything that I’ve done, I don’t celebrate with that,” Pollard told me by phone a few minutes ago. “I don’t laugh when people come up to me and call me ‘The Brady Killer.’ I don’t laugh at that. I’m looking at a man that I respect. I respect Tom Brady with everything that I have. I know his story, I respect him, first of all, because he’s a man. I respect him because he’s a player. Honestly, I don’t get excited because of that. When it’s all said and done, that man had to do the treatment, he had to do everything else to come back. Nothing is done maliciously.“
Still, Pollard is a villain to Patriots fans. No doubt about that.
“Uh, they can think I’m a villain all they want to,” Pollard told me. “I think the fans have to understand that we as players, we don’t come out and look to hurt anybody. That’s not our intention by any means. But I think fans have to understand that this is a very violent game. And at any snap of the ball, anybody can get hurt.”
His point is that injuries happen. It’s just the reality of a difficult, hard-nosed game. Perhaps that’s why Pollard has shrugged about it in the past. Because injuries just are part of it. In fact, Pollard himself was knocked out of the Eagles game last week with a chest injury. Of his availability, Pollard told me, “When you take certain hits, that body says, ‘I’m going into shutdown mode, bro,’ and you can’t do anything about it. I did everything I can to try to come back last game and couldn’t. Our training staff has been terrific, doing everything they can to make sure I’m taken care of. For me, I’m just excited about the opportunity. And like I said, I’m pushing this thing to the max right now.’ “
In his mind, people are going to get hurt. You just have to deal with it.
“We’re pushing our body to the limit, we have to understand that, when you get to playing in a game, our bodies are fatigued, we never ever play at 100 percent,” Pollard said. “So, our bodies are fatigued anyway. When you tackle and doing certain things, falling under the pile, ligaments, muscles, bones, they break, they tear, they stretch. So, that’s what happens … This is just a violent sport and with this sport, everybody’s getting bigger, faster, stronger year-in and year-out and how do you stop injuries from that? You don’t. You just have to maintain. The training staff has to be great, your equipment has to be, the lifting coaches, they gotta be good at what they do, but nobody’s exempt from getting hurt.”
Pollard wants to win this week, especially because it’s the Patriots. He said he tries his best not to think about that AFC Title game last year because “it sucks” to do that. He said there were plenty of plays they could’ve made to win it. But he also said he doesn’t believe much of a statement can be made by winning this week, if they do that. It’s one game.
“The Super Bowl’s not won in Week 3,” Pollard said. “It’s just anybody’s capable of winning. I don’t think last week, they thought they would lose to Arizona, and it’s just one of those things where any team could come in at any given day and win. Regardless of if they have a winning record or losing record. They can come in and in the NFL, they get paid to play, they may not have all the pieces to the puzzle, but they got pieces and so we can’t lose sight of that. We just gotta continue to play the style that we know how to play – and that’s hard and physical and that’s fast. We have to go into this game understanding who we’re playing. This team has been dominant for a decade.“
Now, about Pollard’s work… He’s promoting an App for Bourre, which can be found right here. He told me about the history of it, how the card game came from France, went to Louisiana and became popular, especially with athletes. He discussed how much fun he has playing it, but also how the money changing hands makes it dangerous. With the App, he sought to eliminate that, while getting closer to the fans.
“I wanted to be able to create something where players could interact with each other, fans could interact with players,” Pollard said. “I mean, just have a blast playing this thing and not have to worry about handing over money if they lost. We’re eliminating the handing over of money. It’s one of those games where it’s kind of a never-ending game. We actually have an update coming out where you play single-player mode and you can play by yourself against four computer players and keep track of your account. It’s a fake (bank) account, but it keeps track of that. You can go into multi-player, send invites to four people, and play up to four people and competitively and try to take fake money from them, just for pride. It’s a lot of fun.“
It’s never too early for him to think about life after football. Helping develop this App was one way to begin the process of getting into business when his career is over.
“For me, it’s my seventh year, I’m always thinking about life after football,” Pollard explained. “We as athletes, we’re blessed to play this game. To be able to play football for a living and make a lot of money doing it, we need to be able to save money. We need to be able to understand that we’re all on a stage. We need to understand that we’ve been given a gift from God to come out here and showcase our talent. But when it’s all said and done, man, the gift that we have and this money that we’re making, it’ s not just for us, man. Yes, the check comes to our name, but we’re here to help others. It makes peoples worlds to be able to talk with a professional athlete. It makes their day and for me, I love seeing people smile, I love seeing people laugh, and I try to do everything I can to interact with fans. Because without them, this sport wouldn’t be what it is.“