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BOSTON (CBS) – Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard, known around these areas as “The Patriots Killer,” joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday, and said the nickname is not one he is very proud of.
“Everyone wants to give me that name, but that’s not something I embrace. That’s not the kind of person, athlete, man that I am. I enjoy this game, love this game, and respect every player I play against and nothing is done maliciously,” he said. “All I can do is hope the players I play against know I don’t embrace any of that. This is a game, and a very competitive game. We are men battling and injuries happen. That’s all I have to say about that one.”
Pollard earned the nickname after being involved in plays that ended Tom Brady’s 2008 season and severely injured Rob Gronkowski’s ankle in the 2011 AFC Championship game. He was covering Wes Welker when he tore his ACL at the end of the 2009 season, but did not touch the Patriots wide receiver on the play.
The Patriots and Ravens will meet for the first time since the AFC Championship Sunday night in Baltimore. Pollard is currently nursing a rib injury he suffered in Baltimore’s Week 2 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, but said he should be good to go for Sunday night.
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Pollard also shared some strong feelings about the replacement officials the NFL has employed for the first two weeks of the season.
“This is way out of their league. It’s too fast, guys are too crafty, and they cannot control the game,” said Pollard. “My issue is we have a commissioner that is jumping on board to hammer every other issue down in the NFL. He is jumping on board to get meetings with players when things are happening, but we have something on hand that is messing up the integrity of the league and nothing is being done about it.”
“These guys need to be out,” he said. “I respect them as men — they were put in a position they can’t handle. But who is going to turn down an NFL officiating gig when you probably get paid more than you got paid in the lingerie league or whatever. Who is going to turn that down? But when it’s all said and done, the commissioner needs to do something about it.”
“All we can do as players is play football. We get paid to perform and we have to go out and perform,” he said. “I understand that sometimes in the heat of the battle we get pissed off at refs because when we see it’s a blatant call that they missed or call that they made. You have guys out here calling a holding penalty, and it’s a 10-yard penalty and they’re giving us 15 yards or pointing at the wrong team. It’s just stuff like this that is just bad.”
“For fans, players, for this league, Goodell needs to step in immediately,” said Pollard. “This is one of the situations he needs to get on it, and get on it fast.”
Pollard said players throughout the NFL feel the same way he does, and there is the idea the replacement refs can be pushed around by players and coaches.
“These guys are star-struck. During the preseason one of the refs saw Flacco and he was amazed. I was thinking ‘wow, what if this was Brady or Tony Gonzalez, all these other guys.’ These guys are star-struck man,” he said. “I understand they respect us as players, but when you step on that field you can’t be bullied. When you throw that flag, stand by that flag. When you make one of those calls, you point with power, with integrity, and these guys don’t have it.”
“Nobody is perfect; we all make bad plays and people make bad calls. But when it’s all said and done, everything that is happening every single game — and it’s consistently happening — something needs to be done about it.”
“When it’s all said and done, this is something the real officials and the league have to iron out. They need to meet now, because this has gone too far.”
So after saying all of this, is Pollard worried about getting hit with a hefty fine?
“How are you going to fine me because I’m speaking out? I’m entitled to my own opinion, so if you want to fine me for that — they find a way to take our money anyways,” said Pollard.
“But we as players have a voice. We as players, we are the NFL. We respect our owners, and we respect this league. From day one when I signed my NFL contract, I was told to protect this shield. We have to protect the shield as players, owners and the front office. We have to protect it, and right now the shield is not being protected because the integrity of the game.”