Tough, high-motored, and hard hitting, Bernard Pollard has become an integral part of the vaunted Ravens defense. The New England Patriots, who face the Ravens in Baltimore this Sunday, remember Pollard before he wore purple.
In 2008, it was Pollard's hit that ended Tom Brady's season in week one, causing tears in the quarterback's ACL and MCL. At the time, Pollard played for Kansas City.
The hard-nosed safety moved to the Houston Texans in 2009, where his pursuit of Patriots' wide receiver Wes Welker caused the knee injury that sidelined Welker for the playoffs.
2010 was a quiet year for the Pollard-Patriot injury affair, but then in last year's AFC championship game, a big hit on tight end Rob Gronkowski caused him to leave the game briefly and left him limited in the Super Bowl. Who had the hit on Gronkowski? Who else? Bernard Pollard.
Pollard is aware that locally and nationally he's been dubbed “the Patriot-killer,” but he's quick to reject the nickname.
“That's not me,” he told reporters earlier this week, “I don't laugh at anything like that because that's not my intention. I am not a malicious player.”
Pollard's play on the field backs up the assertion. The large safety rarely draws penalties, and even his opponents admit it.
Tom Brady said of Pollard, “I have a lot of respect for him as a player and a competitor. Certainly what happened years ago was an accident.”
Goodwill not withstanding, the Patriots have legitimate cause for hoping Pollard's rib contusion keeps him off M&T Bank field this weekend. Pollard's response to any doubt he'll be handing out punishment Sunday night: “Oh, c'mon now. I'm never going to leave my dogs hanging.”
New England, brace yourselves.