Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has the reputation of being one of the hardest hitting safeties in the NFL. His hits have laid out players from sideline to sideline and at times has drawn the frowns of officials, eager to toss the yellow hanky as a way to tell him they disapprove.
No team has felt the wrath of BP like the New England Patriots. At least twice in the last five years, Pollard has knocked both QB Tom Brady and TE Rob Gronkowski out of not only the game, but the season as well. In 2008, while a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Pollard hit Brady's knee and tore his ACL, knocking him out for the entire season and thereby giving backup Matt Cassel the opportunity to get the big payday that he ended up with.
In last year's playoff game, Pollard took down Gronkowski after a short gain and landed on his ankle, knocking him out of the game temporarily before he had to exit for good shortly thereafter.
Patriots fans will question the Brady hit as legal, although the NFL exonerated him. He is just such a physical presence that he will use his body in any way, unconcerned about how it might affect either him or the opponent.
A classic example is the injury he suffered on a blitz earlier this season that caused Pollard to miss a few games and only until recently return to good health.
Pollard and the Ravens are as healthy as they have been all season and look forward to putting a physical beating on the Patriots tomorrow. Their intention is to play the game they way they were taught it and not succumb to the lower level of physicality that the league is obviously trying to enforce. If that results in more personal fouls, then so be it, they appear to be saying.
Hopefully, the referees will let the players play and not be any part of the deciding factor in Sunday evening's AFC Championship Game.