BALTIMORE -- I started my sentence with the words, "I think you know where I'm going with this," and Bernard Pollard just nodded, an implicit understanding of one of the less comfortable storylines of the week ahead.
The first-year Raven has started 72 games over the past five years for three different teams, and this year emerged as an important piece of Baltimore's swarming defense. He's big for his position, can hit and, at 27, still has years in his prime ahead.
Yet, invariably, his story always goes back to that afternoon in September 2008.
Pollard is the man who, back then as a Chief, lunged at Tom Brady's knee, subsequently shredding the quarterback's anterior cruciate ligament to end his 2008 season. The two have gone head-to-head once since, in the 2009 regular season finale. Brady played a little more than a quarter, after Wes Welker tore his ACL slipping on the turf in that one with, you guessed it, the then-Texan Pollard as the closest defender. And so it is that Pollard occupies a place in New England's history.
"It's a part of the game. I'm not a dirty player. I'm not a malicious person," he said on Sunday after Baltimore beat Houston. "It was all football. When you line up and you're between them whites, you don't know what's gonna happen, you don't when it's gonna happen. But stuff happens."
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Pollard added he did reach out to the quarterback after the hit -- "We indirectly talked to each other, through some of his old teammates. I'll get a chance to talk to him at some point."
And while Pollard, like most football players, doesn't want to see anyone go down, he knows the inevitability of injuries. That's why he doesn't dwell on the moment that so many people associate with his name. Nor does the thought of Brady automatically take him back to that September day.
"I actually don't think about it all," he said. "When I look at how that dude's playing, to bounce back off of that injury, he's throwing the ball everywhere. He's a great player. He understands the game. He's been in this position before. The dude's won rings. And to be drafted almost dead last, and come up and prove himself, that says a lot about him."
Pollard kept going, "We know and understand the monster we're going against. We gotta attack. We gotta let our front seven eat. And they're gonna counter with some things. They're a great team. But I think we're a really good team too."
So to sum things up: Clearly, Pollard's going to be asked about the Brady injury this week. Clearly, he's not focused on it.
And no, it doesn't bug him that he's known by many as the Man Who Collapsed Brady's Knee, even if it is a little weird to carry the moniker.
"It is strange. But for me, I just continue to line up," Pollard said. "I'm blessed to play this game. As players, we're all blessed to play this game. I give thanks every day. But for my name to be tied with him, as far as taking him out, I didn't mean to do it. So it's all right."