Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has given the future of the game he plays so fiercely a great deal of thought and he isn’t optimistic.
“Thirty years from now,” Pollard, who will arrive in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII with the Ravens late this afternoon, told CBS Sports.com. “I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.”
Pollard has had to pay, literally, more than most for the league’s crackdown on illegal hits because he’s one of the hardest hitters in the NFL. In the AFC championship game, he knocked out New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley on a legal hit and was fined for a hit on Wes Welker. But he raises a fair point in a way that James Harrison and Troy Polamalu do not when they complain about rules softening the game. Just how much bigger, faster and stronger can players get, Pollard wonders.
“The league is trying to move in the right direction [with player safety],” he said, “but, at the same time, [coaches] want bigger, stronger and faster year in and year out. And that means you’re going to keep getting big hits and concussions and blown-out knees. The only thing I’m waiting for … and, Lord, I hope it doesn’t happen … is a guy dying on the field. We’ve had everything else happen there except for a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks.
“Like I said, I pray it never happens, but you’ve got guys who are 350 pounds running 4.5 and 4.4s, and these owners and coaches want scout-run blockers and linemen to move walls. At the same time, they tell you, ‘Don’t hit here, and don’t hit there, or we’ll take your money.’ Like I said, I hope I’m wrong, but I just believe one day there’s going to be a death that takes place on the field because of the direction we’re going.”