Bernard Pollard has a bleak take on the future of the NFL.
The hard-hitting Baltimore Ravens safety said that he doesn’t believe the league will be in existence in 30 years due to rules changes instituted in an attempt to make the game safer, and the chance a player might die on the field as players continue to get faster and stronger.
“Thirty years from now, I don’t think it’ll be in existence. I might be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I believe with the direction things are going — where [NFL rules makers] wish to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and the rest — there’s going to come a point where fans are about to get fed up with it,” he said to the magazine.
“Guys are getting fined, and they are talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off ‘ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It will be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”
The issue of football safety was on the mind of President Barack Obama recently when he claimed in an interview for its Feb. 11 issue that, if he had a boy, he would think long and hard before enabling him to play the sport.
Obama told the magazine that football fans are going to be forced to wrestle with the fact that the game will most likely change over a period of time to try to reduce the violence.
The president says that some of those changes might make football, in his words, “a bit less exciting” but that it is going to be much better for players. NFL lines
“And those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much,” he revealed.
NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello responded to Obama’s comments Sunday, saying the NFL has “no higher priority than player safety and health at each level of the game.”
Pollard asserted he understands the movement to make the game safer for players, but coaches are looking out 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 does not occur … Is a man dying on the field. We’ve had everything else happen there apart from a death. We understand what we signed up for, and it sucks,” he told the website.
Pollard has a reputation for big hits. He was fined $15,250 for needless roughness last week for his 3rd quarter hit on Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker in the Ravens’ AFC Championship Game victory.
Pollard received a 15-yard penalty on the play for striking a contestant in the head and neck area.
He also forced a vital fumble, however, by knocking running back Stevan Ridley out of that game. He was not penalized or fined for the hit on Ridley.