In the post-bounty NFL, players and coaches aren’t supposed to say publicly the stuff they undoubtedly scream privately. Titans safety Bernard Pollard didn’t get the memo. Or he doesn’t care.
Bet the latter.
“I don’t care what they have to say,” Pollard said regarding those who may criticize him for using such blunt language, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “If they feel like we’re going to carry guns and knives and try and stab people and try and kill them, shame on you. You are an idiot. For us, when we say kill, we want to go out there and knock the [heck] out of people, we want to hit you. And for me, we’re going to help you up because I’m going to knock you back down. I have been at plenty of pee-wee football games where I have seen my son, my daughter, and you hear parents, you hear women, white, black, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, telling their sons, ‘Kill them! Telling their daughters, Kill them!’
“Do I believe they mean kill them? Literally kill them? No. So if you have never played this game before and you want to take that and run with it, go ahead. Shame on you. You’re a fool.”
Some would say Pollard is the fool for so brazenly using the kind of tough talk that underscored the one-year banishment of former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who coincidentally now works for the Titans. The bounty scandal has driven “kill”-type comments out of the NFL mainstream, prompting strong reactions in those rare situations where, for example, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray refers to firing up the “Gator Truck” or Bills defensive lineman Mario Williams says that he always hears defensive coordinator Mike Pettine say “Kill ’em or hurt ’em,” one day before saying Williams has actually never heard that.
Pollard’s defiance almost guarantees that he’ll hear from the league office, where Commissioner Roger Goodell is striving to make the game safer. Or to at least make the game appear safer.
“I really don’t care what the Commissioner is doing,” Pollard said. “I don’t think he has ever played football, he has never played in the National Football League and he has never walked in my shoes. And I haven’t walked in his either. I don’t know what he has to say about me, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t care what he has to say about me. I know that we have to have that mentality to play the game. You have to be [ticked] off, and you have to do some things to [tick] other people off. . . . If you don’t like that, I’m sorry for you. We’re not going to change, and we’re not going to apologize.”
Of course, Pollard is the same guy who declared that the NFL will be gone in 30 years, presumably due in large part to the mentality he so fiercely embraces. The end result is the kind of maddening inconsistency that helps explain why Pollard has bounced from team to team (to team to team) during his career.