Dec 8, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) prepares to catch a twenty yard touchdown reception in front of Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner (20) and strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Titans 51-28. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
This may end up being his legacy with the Tennessee Titans.
Bernard Pollard is known for the attitude he brings on the field. Even if it means he’s going to get slapped with a fine, Pollard typically chooses to make a brutal hit when it’s presented in front of him.
And why not? When you’re the 5-8 Titans, you need to take some risks.
However, Pollard finally let the refs get to him during the team’s 51-28 loss to the Denver Broncos. The safety moved in for a hit on wide receiver Eric Decker, bringing him down with his shoulder pads slightly below Decker’s head. Pollard assumed this would be a better move than hitting him at the knees (which could constitute an automatic fine), but it turns out he was wrong. The play resulted in a 15-yard personal foul penalty – one of many flags the Titans would’ve liked to avoid in Denver.
But Pollard wasn’t the only player who had an issue with the refs on Sunday.
T.J. Ward of the Cleveland Browns has been facing scrutiny for his hit (which was deemed “clean”) on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Quarterback Tom Brady‘s favorite target is now done for the year with MCL and ACL damage following Ward’s actions.
So what’s really legal on the field?
Anyone who’s watched a Titans game this season will likely tell you that it’s the name that matters. Pollard will instantly make you think of hard-hitting defensive football, just as Ndamukong Suh will bring up a mental image of a large man stomping on another player. It’s these type of name associations that may be leading referees to prematurely reach for their yellow flags before plays can be definitively analyzed.
It’s an unfortunate part of the game, especially for a man like Pollard who’s trying to make an honest living. However, this is just the beginning of an era in football when the “higher power” has the final say. Pollard is one of many players who will suffer the brunt of the frustration.