Pollard sounds off on NFL’s punishment of defensive players

Safety Bernard Pollard has emerged as one of the more vocal, blunt and honest members of the Ravens’ locker room.

If you’re looking to find out what someone really thinks about an issue, go to Pollard.

With that being said, Pollard is far from happy, perhaps even incensed with the NFL’s system for fining defensive players. Pollard has some experience with this as one of the team’s hardest hitters.

After the loss to the Texans on Oct. 21, Pollard was fined $7,875 for unnecessary roughness related to a facemask call. He was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness last season. He also drew a $40,000 penalty in 2010 while still with Houston.

So the punishment issued to fellow Ravens safety Ed Reed this week for repeated hits to the head - originally a one-game suspension that has since been reduced to a $50,000 fine - gave Pollard cause to let it rip.

“They took away the suspension, but they took $50,000 from something that was not intentional,” Pollard said. “This dude is not a headhunter. That’s not what Ed is. We have a split second to make a tackle, but you take $50,000 from Ed and for us as players, we still continue to ask, ‘Where’s this money going?’ They’re continually taking money from players for bogus stuff.

“But you can tell me that an offensive player can stiff-arm a defensive player and grab his facemask and throw him to the ground, and you all are perfectly OK with that and no flags are thrown. But if we try to counter that to try to tackle him, because he has our head jarred back, then it’s an $8,000 fine for us. That’s bullcrap.”

Pollard continued to vent about the NFL’s disciplinary system, expressing frustration about the kinds of plays that are being penalized by the league.

But he doesn’t blame the on-field officials for what’s happening.

“So many people talk about the refs, the refs, the refs. They’re told and they’re ordered to do things. Then they have to abide by those rules. They’re not making the rules. It’s the guys in the front office,” Pollard said.

“You have former coaches, you have former players that have played in this league and have hit people helmet to helmet. And then all of a sudden, now you want to stand firm on something that you know what the truth is? Y’know, we’ve got a split second as defensive players to make a tackle. We are taught to react and from the get-go, we’re already at a disadvantage because we’re going backwards.

“While having said that, we signed up for this. We know and understand this. But they played this and they coached this. It’s time for them, they have to switch some kind of rule, they have to do something. They have to define this because there’s no clear-cut way. And they want to say, ‘OK, well we’re just going to take your money,’ or, ‘We’re just going to fine you because we said we can.’

“They hide behind a piece of paper and that’s what I told them. I stand behind what I say and if they disagree, that’s fine. We can agree to disagree. But I’m still going to continue to play this game the way I was taught to play it, and I’m going to hit guys and I’m going to do it the safe way - we have to abide by their rules. But when it’s all said and done, when we react and also players trying to react to us with his head down, you cannot sit here and fine us for that.”

Maybe Pollard has a fine forthcoming, but not for anything he did on the field.

Pollard argued that the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement doesn’t guard the players from fines, especially when it comes to unintentional hits such as the one which led to Reed’s discipline.

“We wouldn’t be talking about it if the system worked,” Pollard said. “Obviously, the system’s not working, and you have to be careful on what you agreed to. I don’t want us to give an excuse where we’re saying we just signed (the CBA) to sign it. Well, I’m pretty sure things were looked at and people tried to go over it as deep as they could. But when it’s all said and done, it’s not working right now. We need to get back to this thing and iron some things out.”