Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has delivered so many bone-crushing hits throughout his career, it’s basically become second nature. Heck, his nickname is “Bonecrusher.”
Pollard is the type of player who’ll make you think twice about being in his general vicinity on the gridiron. No team – or fan base – fears for the safety of their players with Pollard around more than the New England Patriots.
In Boston, Pollard is known as the “Patriot killer” by many fans.
Pollard is openly religious and mild mannered football off the field, and obviously isn’t actually a killer, but he’s a different person once he steps onto the gridiron.
When talking about Sunday’s AFC Championship game during his weekly radio show on 105.7 The Fan, Pollard used the term “John Deere game.” He was talking about the John Deere medical carts that typically drive injured players from the field to the locker room.
Pollard doesn’t play with the intentions of severely injuring his opponents but he also won’t back down from putting as much effort behind a hit as possible.
During his seven seasons in the NFL, Pollard has done his fair share of “John Deere-ing” when it comes to the Patriots. Now that the Patriots are once again standing in the way of Pollard and an attempt to play in the Super Bowl, neither the Patriots fan base nor the team themselves can be too thrilled.
Incident #1: Week 1, 2008: Pollard Tears Tom Brady’s ACL
During the 2008 season opener versus Pollard’s Kansas City Chiefs, Pollard acciently hit Brady near his knee, tearing his ACL and ending his season, which was only twelve hours old at the time. The low hit inspired the “Brady Rule” (not to be confused with the other Brady rule, the “Tuck Rule”), which helped further protect quarterbacks from low hits.
Incident #2: Week 17, 2009: Pollard Scares Wes Welker Into Tearing His ACL and MCL
The next season, Pollard struck again, but this time he didn’t even have to touch a player to force injury. After the Patriots had already clinched the AFC East, Wes Welker was playing in their regular season finale and tore his MCL and ACL at the sight of Pollard, who was playing for the Houston Texans at the time.
Welker’s injury proved costly as the Patriots went on to an embarrassing playoff loss at home at the hands of the Ravens 33-14. This was a memorable game for most Ravens fans as running back Ray Rice started the game off with a 83-yard touchdown while Patriots fans essentially booed the team for the entire game.
Incident #3: AFC Championship Game, 2011: Pollard Injures Rob Gronkowski’s Ankle
Pollard took a year off from inflicting injury to Patriots in 2010 but he returned to normal form during the 2011 AFC Championship game, this time as a member of the Ravens.
Pollard’s blow wasn’t as bad as originally thought, but it was enough to put Patriots fans on the edge of their seats.
After catching a 23-yard pass from Brady, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was wrapped up by Pollard, who brought Gronkowski down awkwardly, twisting his ankle the wrong way.
The Patriots went on to win the game and Gronkowski wore a walking boot for much of the two-week layover, but fortunately for Patriots fans, Gronkowski was able to play in the Super Bowl (though they lost anyway).
Incident #4: TBD
Now with the Patriots facing Pollard once again, some of their new superstars should be concerned, especially Aaron Hernandez, who should see plenty of Pollard on Sunday.
With Gronkowski already unable to play for the rest of the season with a broken forearm, Hernandez will become the team’s primary tight end.
It’s likely Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees will alternate Pollard and an inside linebacker to cover Hernandez downfield.
The Patriots fans and players are almost certainly not happy to see Pollard once again. Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to get used to him being around as the Patriots are already scheduled to play the Ravens during the 2013 season.
Pollard laid some big hits out during the Week 3 matchup, but players fortunately escaped injury. Still, given his history against the Patriots, he’ll be due to “John Deere” someone within the next two meetings.
Now, we’re not rooting for injuries by any stretch. The point is that having someone like Pollard in the NFL keeps the integrity of what football players and safeties are supposed to be about, and slows the decline into flag football.
Here’s a montage of plays in which Pollard injured a member of the Patriots, along with some of his sweet locker-room dance moves.