KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The man who delivered the hit that ended Tom Brady's season insists he was not trying to hurt last year's NFL MVP.
"It was really an accident," Kansas City's Bernard Pollard said. "I can't change what happened. I can't do anything but pray for him and hope he has a speedy recovery."
Early in the Patriots' 17-10 victory, Pollard came on a safety blitz and was fighting through the block of running back Sammy Morris. Crawling forward, he got hold of Brady's left knee just as Brady was planting to make a long throw to Randy Moss.
"As soon as the play happened, I said, `Oh, man.' When I heard him scream, I knew it was serious," the third-year safety said. "I came back to the sideline and told (coach Herm Edwards) `That dude's hurt. But it was not intentional, coach, man, I'm sorry."'
The league said Monday the hit was clean.
"It is not a foul because the defensive player was coming off and affected by a block by the offense," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. The replay was reviewed by Mike Pereira, the supervisor of officials.
But Pollard said he's sure that many people will agree with Moss that it was a dirty hit.
"I know one of their teammates called me a dirty player. If you see the play, I was not being dirty at all," Pollard said. "I was trying to get up and my momentum took me forward with 230 pounds on my back. I've never been a dirty player. You ask my teammates. You ask any of my coaches."
Drafted in the second round in 2006 out of Purdue, Pollard became a starter in 2007 and has acquired a reputation as a quiet, studious young player and hard-hitting tackler.
He said he'd received messages of support from friends and fans.
|Winslow Townson / Associated Press|
|Chiefs S Bernard Pollard (No. 49) said Tom Brady's injury "was really an accident."|
"Everybody is saying, `Keep your head up,"' he said. "My head's up. I do still have a little bit of pain that he's down and out right now. But I have to be a pro. If I'm going to be a player for the Kansas City Chiefs, my teammates expect me to go out there and do my job every play, every game."
Pollard's teammates were making it a point to console him.
"Bernard feels terrible" said quarterback Damon Huard, who came into the game in the third quarter when Chiefs starter Brodie Croyle sustained a shoulder injury that could sideline him for a while.
Huard, a former backup to Brady and a good friend of the Patriots star, said the injury was just an unfortunate accident "that happens in football."
"When you're making a long throw, you usually take a bigger stride," he said. "And Tom was just totally stretched out and extended and Bernard just tried to reach out for him and caught him at the right time.
"Bernard feels bad about it. He really does."
Cornerback Patrick Surtain, an 11-year veteran and leader of the youthful secondary, said no one who knows Pollard would think he tried to hurt anyone.
"It could have been any quarterback in the league," Surtain said. "The guy was on his knees, basically crawling to get to him."
Pollard said he would not be surprised if he comes to be known around the country as the player who knocked Brady out for the year.
"He's a really good guy. He's not only the NFL face, but he's the face of magazines, and people love him." he said. "But it still doesn't sidestep the fact that he plays for the National Football League. He plays football. He ties his shoe just like I tie my shoes to get ready for a game. He puts his mouthpiece in to keep all his teeth in, just like I do.
"I'm not talking any trash on him at all. He is the face of the NFL. But at the same time, he is a player. I just hope for a speedy recovery. I hope it's not as bad as everybody is saying."
Pollard said he would not do anything different.
"My thing is, the call's been brought in by our coaches and I just lay on the ground, then everybody's saying, `Bernard's showing no effort on this play.' Then I'm not a dirty player but I'm a bad player, or not a good teammate because I don't have effort.
"We can't turn back the hands of time. I just wish him a speedy recovery."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press