Bernard Pollard: Goodell’s goal is to turn NFL into flag football


Ravens safety Bernard Pollard believes the logical extension of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s emphasis on player safety is to turn professional football into flag football.

Asked in an interview on KILT what he thinks the commissioner’s ultimate goal is, Pollard answered, “From what I see, we’re gonna be running around with helmets and flags on in about seven years.”

Pollard said Goodell went way too far in his punishments for the Saints’ bounty program, and he said Goodell is fundamentally changing the game.

It’s getting out of hand,” Pollard said, via “This is not powderpuff football, this is not flag football. This is a violent sport. And it’s a fun sport — we all love playing this game. And we’re blessed by God to even go out there and display our talent to the world, but at the same time you can’t sit there and say, ‘We want guts, we want glory, we want heart.’ You can’t give a player heart but at the end of the day you tell him, ‘Well, hold on but be careful when you go to make that hit.’ We wear helmets and shoulder pads. That means you’re supposed to go knock somebody around. We ain’t wearing flags.”

Pollard added that he believes Goodell simply doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a defensive player in the NFL.

“If you’ve never played the game, you can’t tell me what it’s like,” Pollard said. “You can’t tell me what to do.”

Actually, Goodell can tell Pollard what to do. But Pollard doesn’t have to like it.

57 responses to “Bernard Pollard: Goodell’s goal is to turn NFL into flag football

  1. As a Steelers fan who hates the Ravens, I have to agree with Pollard 100%. I don’t ever want to see a player injured (even from my hated rivals), but I do like hard-hitting smash mouth football and the more they flag and fine players for making hits the more irritating it is to watch. I think there’s a huge difference between someone playing hard and someone playing dirty now, don’t get me wrong, cheap shots and attempts to hurt or injure SHOULD be punished. But throwing flags because a hit looked like it might have been illegal (but wasn’t)? Come on, let these guys play!

  2. To say I want this guy out of the league is an understatement. This may be the only time I can say I’d root for a Steeler, but I’d love to see Hines Ward jack this cat up! And by jack up, I mean shut this guy’s mouth because he’s eating with a straw.

  3. All current players say these things now, but so many of them will be joining lawsuits after they’re out of the league for 3 yrs and bankrupt claiming they didnt know how violent the league was or the risks they were taken and the NFL didnt protect them.

    Dont blame Goodell for the changes, blame all the former players filing ridiculous lawsuits.

  4. So, intentionally trying to “take-out” your fellow fraternity brother is or has always been part of the game? What an idiot. Wonder what Bernard’s ‘wonderlic’ score was.
    They tried to intentionally harm a fellow member of this so-called fraternity… for a cash reward! To injure or maim; possibly ending another players career – it’s criminal and I believe the $aints fans having seen anything yet; there WILL be criminal charges, just wait.

    If this happened in the military, another tight fraternity, I can assure you the punishment would be a lot harsher that what Goodell pass out. These guys, the delusional $aints* fans and their dysfunctional government simply don’t get it.

    Perhaps the most pathetic part of all this is the validation of what our society and values has become. *sigh*

  5. Good for Pollard on speaking out. Hopefully the tide is turning against Goodell because he is ruining the sport I grew up watching.

  6. Real intelligent comment by Rogers, because everybody knows flag football would make the NFL far more popular. What a dumbass!!

  7. What jumps out in all of these stories about the commish is that he is out of touch because he never actually played football at a high level. So that begs the question, how did he get this job or get in a position to get this job… If you look at his past you see that Roger Goodell is a child of means and excess. His father was a senator, and Roger Goodell never had to make his own bones in this world. He’s been given or walked into everything he has and his elitest view of the world makes him think he knows what’s best for the rest of the world – including the players and teams of the NFL. Must be good to be Roger.

  8. Pollard plays the position that is the most impacted and hardest to play legally under the new rules. Kam Chancellor of the Seahawks has also had difficulty with the new rules. This site has also had difficulty interpreting legal hits from illegal hits as evidenced by comments regarding a legal play Chancellor made versus the Redskins last year.

    I do not have much sympathy for players who make hits like the Harrison tackle of Colt McCoy last year. However, playing safety under the new rules is difficult. It requires a lot of thinking which can cause hesitation which is what players are taught leads to injuries. As the next generation of players is coached to keep the new tackling techniques in mind until it is second nature there will be fewer complaints.

  9. Some of you people disgust me. You use Goodell as a mouthpiece for your disgust, but dont even understand what you are talking about.

    Goodell isnt standing on the sideline of every game. He doesnt throw any flags.

    Goodell isnt voting during the owners meetings on what rules are added/removed.

    Goodell isnt telling anyone what they can/cant do outside of the rulebook. If you dont like the rulebook, dont play the damn game.

    Youre going to grab as much cash as you can playing this game, then do nothing but complain about it, and how it is run. If it is so terrible, go do something else you are qualified to do. Like teach a high school gym class, or cut someones lawn.

  10. If the players or families agree never to sue the NFL for injuries incurred during their career in the NFL then Goodell should allow them play as rough as they want but since that will never happen Goodell should run the NFL as he has been doing.

  11. Pollard maybe have a point – unfortunately he is also the type of dirty, cheap shot artist the NFL would be within their rights to sanction.
    Talentless and a big mouth.

  12. Pink is going to be standard on all uniforms soon as well, bringing out the feminine side for the lady fans.

  13. Here is the deal….. If former players weren’t lining up for a PAYDAY then all of this wouldn’t be happening. When you don’t use your brain before you speak it shows. Cause and effect Polly. Soooo…. Find a former player and… Blast him on twitter. Thats what “men” do nowadays right?

  14. Pollard said, “From what I see, we’re gonna be running around with helmets and flags on in about seven years.”


    Pollard should understand the emphasis on limiting head injuries. His own QB is suffering from one right now. How else can you explain his self-proclamation that he’s the “greatest QB in the game”?

  15. Maybe Goodell should just tell the players that once they receive a concussion that they are no longer allowed to play in the NFL. Then he doesn’t have to make the league softer and doesn’t have to worry about future lawsuits. Something tells me that the players wouldn’t like that.

  16. “If you’ve never played the game, you can’t tell me what it’s like,” Pollard said. “You can’t tell me what to do.”

    This is exactly why you need someone tell you what to do.

    If you don’t like the rules, quit.

  17. The only thing this loser is known for is injuring other players. I defy anyone to name a single positive defensive play that he has ever made. That said, I have to agree with him. Now if only he and Goodell can get rid of each other. May I suggest a duel? At only three paces though. The math may get too dicey for Bernard after that…

  18. Wait what??? Ur telling me they play tackle? I coulda sworn my bucs were playing two hand touch all last year…..

  19. Fans can lose interest in the NFL the same way fans have lost interest in baseball and basketball. Keep changing the sport we love and fans will gradually stop watching as much. I can remember when baseball and basketball were watched a lot in the past, until the games got too long and the referee’s started calling too many fouls!

  20. I don’t disagree with Pollard, but think there is a fair amount of CYA going on with the refs as well. Plus there are so many rule changes so often, it is hard to maintain consistency. But since it is the most popular and successful league in America, I find it hard to see what the commissioner is doing wrong.

    I don’t agree with everything he does, but the people want to see TD’s and offense. I appreciate a defensive struggle now and then.

    Sorry Bernard, you just happen to be on the wrong end of this one. Of course, if you don’t like it, you are free not to play.

  21. @bertilfox: Pollard was the best safety on the Ravens last year,and that’s including Reed. An example of his defensive playmaking would be in the AFCCG,Flacco throws a pick,on the very next play Brady goes deep to Aiken in the endzone. Pollard runs with Aiken stride fir stride,tips the ball up and the rookie Jimmy Smith intercepts it. Pollard was a big reason the Ravens finished 8th vs. the pass last year.

  22. I love how all of these NFL players are complaining about the NFL becoming flag football, but then retire and sue the NFL for the condition their bodies are in. The NFL does not care about player safety or big hits. In fact they love big hits because that sells tickets. What the NFL does care about though is lawsuits. If the players want these fines and sanctions to stop then former players are going to have to stop suing. The larger issue with the bounty scandal is not players getting hurt, but people suing the NFL for potentially fixing the games. According to an article I was linked to from this site, the Saints were one of the least penalized teams during Williams’ tenure there. People spend a lot of money on gambling. One would think that if the Saints were trying to hurt players they would have a fair amount of defensive penalties and fine right? Well, what if you spent a lot of money on tickets, gambling, or whatever and you think the NFL may be giving more popular teams a competitive advantage? Suddenly you will have lawsuits on your hands. It wasn’t that long ago that someone sued the Bengals for failing to field a competitive team or at least they sue them because they thought the Bengals were not trying to field a competitive team. So if people start to think the NFL helped the Saints win games during that time… they will have a legal nightmare on their hands.

  23. This is actually not a joke. I can see Goodell evolving this sport to flag football I believe that the brain trust believes the sport is more global with less hitting and extending the careers of marketable entities (the players). I can see the NFL transforming into a sport of finesse. Truth is this goes back to the beginning of the game when it was all ground and pound with little passing and now we have the vertical era which less muscle more finesse. I can see this game becoming a game of pansies using player safety as the scapegoat and using this model to get more countries interested in the NFL. To me its a shame what the game has become but just like how electronic music has taken over analog evolution is natural and we must evolve with it or someone has to make a change.

  24. What amazes me is even with the obvious violent nature of the game and the many concussions and injuries NFL players sustain year after year that the NFL hasn’t developed some kind of liability waiver for players as they enter the league.

    ” If you want to play in the NFL you need to be aware of the possible health issues that could occur by competing on an NFL football field. By signing this waiver you agree that you are willing to take the risks associated with playing football in the NFL and will not take legal/civil action against the NFL, NFLPA, Team Owners,… etc during or after your time in the NFL should a career or life threatening injury occur.”

    Point is every NFL players will admit that this is a violent game and there is a very good chance they will be injured at some point over the course of their careers. They will also accept millions of dollars to go out and take those risks to play the game they/we love.

    It would be better to just accept the consequences of a well loved violent game instead of making up a new game. No one wants to watch flag football. The NFL really screwed up by not legally confronting this issue decades ago. They tried to lie about the risks (which was just dumb) and now its biting them in the ass.

    Players that made millions voluntarily smashing their heads through brick walls want to sue because they “didn’t realize” at the time that doing so could have some possible negative effects on their long term health? Please.

  25. No Bernard–the reason why Goodell is cracking down on the kinds of hits he is is so he can prevent you from becoming an Andre Waters or Dave Duerson–DBs way better than yourself who committed suicide because of the BRAIN INJURIES THEY RECIEVED delivering the hits that used to render players unconscious. If you don’t like it, retire.

  26. Pollard is scared because if you take away his physicality he’s a sub-par safety. He’s one of those “pulverize them after they catch they ball” guys. He doesn’t defend the pass, he defends the YAC.

  27. raqaiw says:Apr 5, 2012 10:23 AM

    @bertilfox: Pollard was the best safety on the Ravens last year,and that’s including Reed. An example of his defensive playmaking would be in the AFCCG,Flacco throws a pick,on the very next play Brady goes deep to Aiken in the endzone. Pollard runs with Aiken stride fir stride,tips the ball up and the rookie Jimmy Smith intercepts it. Pollard was a big reason the Ravens finished 8th vs. the pass last year.


    The Ravens still lost so who cares. Who is Aiken?

  28. Aikmen is right.

    Lawsuits/ head injuries are going to eventually kill the sport.

    Why not just make them sign a waver before stepping foot in the clubhouse? If they don’t comply, they can sell insurance with the rest of us.

  29. Soory but Pollard is absolutely correct. Football is a collision and contact sport. And injuries are part of the game. If Goodall wants to solve the problem with player lawsuits after they retire, all he has to do is make the players sign a waiver before they play saying that, ” Football is a violent game with a 99% injury risk factor; if you choose to work in this profession, then you are waiving your rights to sue for any medical reasons in your later years in life.”

    That’s all you half to do Mr. Goodall. Because at this rate, the NFL will be flag football very soon and when no one watches, there will be no one to pay your salary sir.

  30. I think what you will start to see (and it will be
    a 2 step process) is 1st, and increase in knee
    injuries in the NFL. Why ? Because players are
    no longer going for the headshot. In as clean a
    manner as possible, they will try to deliver blows
    to the ankle or thigh area. Sometimes they will

    2nd thing that will occur as a result of these
    increased knee injuries is the NFL laying down
    a tackling target that if not followed, will result
    in fines/suspensions etc. that target area will be
    you can hit your opponent between the shoulder
    area and mid thigh.

    This is coming. Trust me.

    Oh yeah, and Bernie Pollard is an idiot.

  31. The nfl cares about one thing. Money. Just like everybody else on the planet. If nobody sued the nfl then the nfl would let them play as hard and dirty as they want to. but with all these old players suing the nfl they have no choice but to try and make the game safer. Players you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  32. These players shelf life is short. Thus why they try to get the big contracts. I think that the lively hood of the players need to be protected from pukes and losers like Gregg Williams and the Saints organization. Plus it strips us fans of seeing a great player possibly. I like the physical aspect but not the injure and end career crap.

  33. For people that don’t get it. First Goodell played college football. And second, Goodell has to come down hard on something like this because otherwise people will be suing the league just like former players are now. A business man knows it has to protect the company first and foremost from itself. I love hard hitting smash mouth football, but you don’t want this game shut down by the courts either!

  34. Have the players sign an agreement to not sue. The league has a support group. Who cares if they sue anyway, they have plennty of money and plent of lawyers stop feeling sorry for the rich owners. Pollard is 110% correct. This is a mans sport and if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchecn. We were all taught from day one in football to plant them in the dirt and drill a hole. Whatever wimps feel bad should not play the game or watch. This is for men, not sissies. Rough sports have always attracted many people. The gladiators drew huge crowds. NASCAR once did as well until they started taking the danger out. For all you sissies who cringe when a player lays some one out. Turn off the TV set. Go to the library and read a book and let the men do what they do. No one makes you watch. Rip their heads off. I say crush the opponent and feed them to the dogs. God Bless them all.

  35. There are many dangerous jobs: military, construction, chemical industry, transportation, police, firefighter, etc… The NFL needs better contracts to protect them against these lawsuits. As the NFL becomes more like track and less like football fans will lose interest and everyone will be hurt! Players, owners, fans, writers…The NFL should always try and be as safe as possible but eliminating defensive football is going too far. Not many people are intersted in watching track and field. Receivers who shouldn’t be playing the game are being given too much protection and too much of an advantage against the defense.

  36. Millerdog,

    Believe it or not this a game and a sport, not a war. Please don’t be naive enough to think that the NFL can stand up to count less law suits. The NFL would crumble under that pressure like any other business. I played this game at the collegiate level, and I can tell you that I respected this game and my opponents enough to never go out and intentionally injure someone. Most NFL players I would imagine are the same way. You are the uneducated minority in this battle. I find it funny that you claim that you are a man because you can watch someone injure another player. Real men are those who protect and take care of others, not those who take pleasure in others injuries. Most football players you ever hear say the same thing. They play hard, but they never want to end another players career. Please educate yourself a little before you spew that crap to others who know better.

  37. Bernard Pollard got a big mouth.Baltimore tried to get Mark Sanchez out IN 2010. They are known for using their helmits as batting rams, helmit first.This should have been done in 1982, when NE willfully got 73 Joe Klecko out. The players were paid by the coach to get 73 Joe Klecko out on the cartoff.

    J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. This is the only word we Jet fans know how to spell. We take the cl out class.

  38. Another blithering idiot who doesn’t get it and never will. Guys like Pollard are all fine with mayhem until it is their body that is bent beyond its limit. What he can’t seem to fathom is that Goodell and the NFL rules committee have the player’s best interest in mind when they modify the rules for safety sake.

  39. I sympathize with what Pollard is feeling. But like most young men, they live in today. He can’t see that in about 25 years, he’s going to have a whole different outlook.

  40. bullcharger says: Apr 5, 2012 10:54 AM

    The Ravens still lost so who cares. Who is Aiken?

    Reading comprehension doesn’t seem to be your strong suit. The topic isn’t who won, it was whether Pollard made any positive defensive plays.
    You must’ve missed the whole “Better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” part of growing up.

  41. Maybe when Pollard gets older and sees first hand what happens in life after football, he will get it. Or, like Andre Waters (RIP), he will be so frustrated with his memory loss and pain that he will decide to take his own life.

  42. Pollard is correct. They all try and NAIL the other guy..every time!! It’s the way the game is played! No player wants to hurt anyone in a serious condition. NO PLAYER. But man…football won;t be football if you keep calling Cheap Calls! More people get hurt doing other sports. But the Commish is really playing into the Injury thing! Heck..I hate it when a player barley hits a QB on his helmet, and then get a Roughing the Passer. It’;s alomost becoming a BIG JOKE!
    LET the guys play!!!

  43. The problem I have with the Saints punishment is that the bounty epidemic is not isolated to just one of 32 teams. It’s not limited to the coaches. It is often conducted in locker rooms between players like friendly side-bets at a poker game. It builds camaraderie much like the “kangaroo courts” of offensive linemen. Bounties have been an unspoken part of football culture for a very long time. The league has to be very clear about defining this rule. They threw the book at the Saints because they had already been warned.

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