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Shutdown Corner

Bernard Pollard: New England’s Public Enemy #1

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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The third Pollard injury, on tight end Rob Gronkowski. (Getty Images)

At some point in their future, the New England Patriots might want to scout defensive back Bernard Pollard with the following simple report: "If you see this man with any team facing us, run screaming into the night." In the last four seasons, Pollard has caused three fairly serious injuries on the persons if three different Pats players — and Pollard was with a different team each time.

We'll go in reverse order, since the third injury happened to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the third quarter of New England's 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game. With 43 seconds left in the third quarter, the Pats had first-and-10 at their own 37-yard line, and ... well, this happened.

The near-indestructible tight caught a pass from Tom Brady, and  we discovered that an ankle is not supposed to move that way. Gronk was out for a few plays, but came back in for the drive that featured a Brady fourth-down quarterback sneak that put New England in the lead for good.

The injury for which Pollard is best known, of course, was the hit in the first quarter of the Pats' 2008 season opener that put Brady out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. That hit led to the "Brady Rule," pone of the many inconsistently-called quarterback safety rules put forth in recent years. This rule indicated that a defender already brought to the ground can't lunge at or under the knees of a quarterback. Pollard had been blocked out of the play in question by running back Sammy Morris.

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The first Pats injury tackle, on quarterback Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

"You can't control what happens on that field. At any time, at any second, something bad can happen," Pollard told the media on Wednesday. "And that's what happens in this game every week, somebody goes down. It just so happened to be Tom Brady and everybody made a big deal about it.

"That's the pretty boy. That's the man of the NFL. That's Mr. Do-It-All," Pollard continued. "So everybody is going to hold that against me but I don't care. I don't play for men. I don't play for no woman. I play because I'm given the gift to play this game. And in this sport, you can't say, 'Go out there and hit somebody full speed with equipment and everything else on,' and say, 'Be careful.'"

Point taken, but there was also the fact that when playing with the Houston Texans in 2009. Pollard ended receiver Wes Welker's year rather ignominiously. Welker was lost for the postseason in the regular season finale with a serious knee injury.

[ Recap: Baltimore's missed FG seals Pats' win ]

And now Gronk? The tight end was not injured as seriously, but we're guessing at this point that Pollard might need a little extra security to get out of Foxboro this time. We're not insinuating that Pollard's a dirty player -- stuff happens on the field, and we understand that. Just that it's odd that there have been three Pats injuries caused by the same guy ... while wearing three different uniforms.

Maybe the Patriots should just sign the guy. He's certainly well-traveled enough, and the New England secondary hasn't been the strongest in recent years. Best for Bill Belichick to keep his enemies closer.

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