Mike from Attleboro: Give me Pollard on the Pats any day

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Mike from Attleboro: Give me Pollard on the Pats any day

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com. Today he gives his take on Public Enemy Number One: Bernard Pollard.

Now that the sting of the Patriots' loss to the Ravens has subsided a bit, its time for me to put down the navy-and-silver pom-poms and admit something that maybe just as surprising but that I simply cant hide anymore: I love Bernard Pollard.

You can call me insane, or not a true Patriots fan but I would take Bernard Pollard on my team in a nano-second, even after the reign of devastation he has unleashed on my team. He is everything the Ravens needs when crunch time rolls around. Pollard is a relentless competitor. He is apparently unaffected by the spotlight of the postseason. He remains unafraid to issue game-changing violence to his team's benefit in a day and age where that type of play is no longer glorified on postgame shows or NFL DVDs. And, on a roster full of big-name defensive players, Pollards big play -- the hit on Stevan Ridley that forced the fumble that Baltimore turned into a game-clinching touchdown -- overshadowed them all.

Terrell Suggs got lots of pub for his smack talk following the Raven win, but his mouth was cashing the checks Bernard Pollard wrote during the game. Ray Lewis was mugging for the media, praising the Lord for another chance to play in the Super Bowl, when he should have just thanked Pollard. Patriots fans salivating at the thought of an aging Ed Reed coming to play in New England next season should lament that the 28-year-old Pollard isnt the one hitting free agency.

Some of you might say, How could you be a fan of such a dirty player?

The same way we were all fans of Rodney Harrison or are fans of Brandon Spikes. If you loved the way those two changed games with big hits and borderline legal play, then youre either a hypocrite or a hopeless homer for not at least respecting Pollard. Pollard is no different than those two and, in fact, a look at the plays that have made him such a hated figure hereabouts actually show that his reputation in New England as a dirty player is largely an overblown myth:

Pollards hit that ended Tom Bradys season in 2008 was a product of Kevin Faulk being suspended, Sammy Morris not finishing his block and Pollard, who was knocked to the ground, not giving up on a play. That play is now illegal not because it was dirty, but because in Roger Goodells NFL, quarterbacks are treated like spotted owls, not football players.

The legendarily terrible playing surface in Reliant Stadium was almost certainly responsible for Wes Welkers 2009 knee injury. All Pollard did was play his position correctly and attempt to make a tackle, as the damage was done before Pollard even touched Welker.

The high ankle sprain that Rob Gronkowski suffered at the hands of Pollard in last year's AFC championship game was the fluke result of Pollard trying to do something that would give most members of the secondary in todays NFL an explosive case of the Rokers: Trying to tackle Gronk singlehandedly.

And the concussion Pollard inflicted on Ridley two Sundays ago was just old-school football. It was a vicious, game changing hit resulting from both a running back and a safety, both lowering their heads at the point of impact. If Brandon Spikes had put Ray Rice on Dream Street with a similar hit, Pats fans would have been jumping out of their seats, lauding the play of the Sandman. John Harbaugh was one hundred percent correct when he called it Football at its finest.

Yes, Pollard was also flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Wes Welker that some of you may call dirty. And, technically, youre correct. Those hits have recently -- and, in my opinion erroneously -- been made personal fouls. I simply call those collisions making a receiver play for a catch in the postseason. Every inch of that 15-yard penalty the Ravens gave up was worth the message it sent. The fine Pollard paid was money well spent, as Welker dropped a game-changing third-down pass shortly thereafter. The NFLs sanitized propagandists and their legal department wont admit it, but that hit was the turning point in the game.

In spite of these facts and his play on the field, there are some of you that would still call me crazy for wanting Pollard on the Pats. I think its crazier to have watched season after season of Brandon Meriweather, Sergio Brown, James Ihedigbo, Steve Gregory, Brandon McGowan, James Sanders and Patrick Chung and not lust after someone who embraces the way football was meant to be played and approaches every play with the kind of informed ill intent that causes turnovers and creates a legend.

I think Bernard Pollard is a player that deserves respect, not vilification. I think Pollard is the kind of throwback that would go a long way to making the Patriots defense the force it once was. I think Pollard playing next to Devon McCourty would be a Foxboro favorite for years.

But unfortunately, Bernard Pollard plays for the Ravens. And God help you if you dont see him coming.

Curran: Can we swear off the stupid questions?

Curran: Can we swear off the stupid questions?

FOXBORO  -- To think there’d be no further questions about the Tom Brady-Jimmy Garoppolo dynamic when Brady’s four-game suspension ends would be moronic.

Bill Belichick won’t like them. He’s destined to give them the verbal Heisman. But there are aspects to the story which demand further interrogation.

So there’s those questions. And then there’s baiting for the sake of baiting, which is what happened Friday morning.

A reporter asked Belichick, “You said Tom will start when he’s eligible. Can you think of an occasion when you named a Week 5 starter in July?”

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Belichick said.

“What happens if Jimmy plays better?”

“Look, I told you what’s gonna happen,” Belichick answered.

Pressing on, the reporter began, “So there’s no, there’s, there’s . . . ”

At that point, with Belichick reacting like he’d come open a month-old-corpse and muttering, “Jesus Christ," the reporter cut himself off.

I’ve been trying to steer clear of the media ombudsman business. But this stuff makes it hard. The first question was obtuse in the extreme. I don’t even know how that gets formulated.
This is not a Brady-Bledsoe scenario.

You have the best quarterback of his generation who – 17 months ago – took down what was supposed to be one of the great defenses in NFL history in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. A guy who got smashed all over the field in Denver at the age of 38 and still almost pulled out a win last January.

When that guy’s cleared to play, you sprint him onto the field regardless of the circumstances.

“If Jimmy plays better . . . ”? Better than what? Better than 11 touchdowns, no picks, 116-for-160 and 1,547 yards, which is what Brady did in the first four games last season? Better than Brady played in Denver while getting his head caved in every other play?

I understand that sometimes you have to ask the dumb question to get something on the record, but this was not that. This seemed like someone who really thought he was onto something. Was going to paint Belichick into an uncomfortable corner and hang him with his own words.

Sorry, counselor.

Now, you and I can sit on the front stoop and wonder what happens if Garoppolo plays ridiculously well then Brady comes back and spends four weeks playing like he’s never been on a field before and is clearly an impediment to the team’s success.

Won’t happen. But we can talk about it.

Asking Belichick if he’s gonna go with the hot hand when two days prior he told you what he was going to do is asking for a JC response.

Belichick probably figured that stating Brady was the Week 5 starter before he was asked was the best way to defuse idle speculation. “We’ll see . . . ” or “We always do what’s best for the football team . . . ” would have ignited a thousand hours of conversation about the budding quarterback controversy in New England.

Belichick now knows that the speculation and scenario spinning is coming anyway. JC may hear his name muttered a few more times from the podium between now and October.