Baltimore, MD, United States (4E Sports) – Hard-hitting Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard is convinced that the NFL will suffer its demise in 30 years as fans might get tired of changes instituted to make the game safer.
“It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it,” Pollard told CBSSports.com.
“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore,” he added.
While he understands the movement to make the game safer for players, Pollard said coaches are looking for players who are “stronger and faster year in and year out. And that means you’re going to keep getting big hits and concussions and blown-out knees”.
“The only thing I’m waiting for … and, Lord, I hope it doesn’t happen … is a guy dying on the field. We’ve had everything else happen there except for a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks,” Pollard said.
Known for his reputation as a hard hitter, Pollard was fined $15,250 for unnecessary roughness last week for his third-quarter hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker in the Ravens’ AFC Championship Game victory.
Pollard also received a 15-yard penalty on the play for striking an opponent in the head and neck area.
He also drew a crucial fumble when he knocked running back Stevan Ridley out of the game but did not receive a penalty or fine.
The issue on players safety has once again taken the spotlight after President Barack Obama told The New Republic that if he had a son, he would think long and hard before allowing him to play the sport.
Obama told the magazine that football fans are going to have to wrestle with the fact that the game will probably change over time to try to reduce the violence.
“And those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much,” Obama said.
In response, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the NFL has “no higher priority than player health and safety at all levels of the game.”