HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – When news of the four Saints players being suspended for the BountyGate scandal, the NFL community was braced for it. And players around the league knew punishments were coming, but they weren’t necessarily in agreement.
Ravens safety Bernard Pollard is clearly angry about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend four players - defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, Saints defensive end Will Smith, and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, and Sainst linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
Questioning the man
Pollard, who has been fined before for hard hits, spoke harshly about the commissioner’s choice.
“You have a man in position firing people and getting rid of guys for what?” Pollard questioned during an interview on SportsRadio 610. “Everybody is showing these clips of these guys running around and hitting people. This is football. That’s what’s supposed to happen.”
According to the league, Vilma, the Saints defensive captain, put out two knockout bounties worth $10,000 each – one for any player who knocked Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of a playoff game at the end of the 2009 season and another for whomever knocked Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of that season’s NFC championship game.
“If this man wanted to say ‘I got $1,000 or $1,500 … ‘” Pollard ranted. “If he said it or he didn’t, that money for somebody to go get a knockout shot … It’s football. It’s competition.”
It’s just work
Without answering the question about whether or not he supports bounties within NFL teams, Pollard seems to believe the punishments are unjust.
“Somebody, go light this thing up,” Pollard said about the entertainment expectations during games. ”Somebody go get these fans riled up. But you have the commissioner coming down on these players. What are you suspending a man for a whole year for? What are you suspending a man for three games for? Because he went out and played the game of football?
“Somebody is going to get a knockout shot. At some point somebody is going to get hit anyway. It’s either kill or be killed. This is not powder puff.”
Pollard takes pride in being a hard hitter and was the vocal cheerleader of the defense when he played for the Texans. Pollard stands out on the field because of his energy and physical play, but it’s his strong opinions and loud way of delivering them that make his a great interview.
“I’m surprised that when Nike unveiled the new uniforms, they didn’t have flags on the side of them,” he said as he mocked rule changes that affect defensive style of play. “You’re taking away the game of football.”
The game of football has evolved tremendously since the days of leather helmets and players playing on both offense and defense, but some criticize recent changes that favor quarterbacks, receivers and ball-carriers.
“In another 20 or 30 years, I don’t even think football will be in existence anymore.”
Pollard was asked if he would let his son play football. His response seems so genuine, yet stunning.
“I know what my body has been through,” Pollard said. “I’m 27 years old. I take care of myself, but it’s a violent sport. I don’t want him to have go through it. I don’t want to see my son with a concussion.”