If you’re a Patriots fan, you probably think Bernard Pollard is an assassin for hire.
You may also think a team like the New York Jets was the one to hire him, or perhaps it was former Patriots personnel member Scott Pioli, or another AFC team looking to overcome New England.
Whatever the case may be, the six-year safety who has played for three different NFL teams likes to mess up New England’s plans by getting rid of one of your players. Let’s look at the rundown of the possible suspects I’ve just listed and compare them to the events and players.
Week 1, 2008: the scene is Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., shortly after 1 p.m. All the fans are back and looking forward to the season because last season ended on a bad note. They won every single game except the one that mattered, but I digress.
Tom Brady drops back, looking for a receiver, and is standing in the pocket when Pollard, while playing for the Chiefs flies around the corner and rolls into his leg. With an ACL tear, Brady is out for the season.
Matt Cassel comes in for the rest of the year, and the Pats become the second team ever to record 11 wins and not make the playoffs. The Miami Dolphins win the AFC East, and an overtime loss to the New York Jets in November was one of the most brutal losses of the season.
Pioli and Cassel flee to Kansas City the next season.
A Jets loss to the Dolphins on the last day of the year ensures that the Pats miss the playoffs. The Dolphins go on to lose to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the playoffs.
In late 2009, Pollard struck again. This occurrence, during garbage time in a game against the Houston Texans, Pats wideout Wes Welker is going out to receive the ball when Pollard intervenes, and Welker ends up tearing his ACL on the play. There goes their best receiver, just in time for the playoffs. New England goes into the playoffs and loses to the Baltimore Ravens in the first round.
So it’s 2011, the Patriots are cruising through the season, and their second-year tight end Rob Gronkowski is having a record-breaking year. He sets records for most receiving yardage and touchdowns for a tight end. He is big, fast and breaks tackles like nobody’s business.
Finishing 13-3, the Patriots bulldoze through the Denver Broncos and end up meeting the Ravens, who just finished beating Pollard’s old team, the Texans. During this game, the Patriots are driving in the fourth quarter when Pollard decides to destroy more of the Patriots’ prospects’ hopes and give the indestructible Gronkowski a high-ankle sprain.
Gronkowski plays in the Super Bowl but is limited in mobility and playmaking ability. Had he been healthy, he might have been able to prevent an interception later in their Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants.
His dance skills were not affected, but that is a different story altogether.
Where am I going with this, you might ask? Pioli and the Chiefs want Cassel, the Jets want to make the playoffs, and there is one team that has been involved in all three events, directly or indirectly. That team is the Baltimore Ravens.
The Super Bowl has gone through New England for a good part of the last decade so eliminating them in 2008 seemed to work, but they lost to the Tennessee Titans. The next year, Pollard goes to the Texans, the Pats play Houston just in time for the playoffs, and Pollard takes out Welker.
This doesn’t work either, as they get past the Patriots but are taken out by the Indianapolis Colts. Baltimore decides to just sign the guy. They get past Houston, and with Pollard on the Ravens, they go after the Patriots’ biggest threat in Gronkowski. But all the scheming is outdone with a dropped touchdown and Billy Cundiff pulling it left.
Pollard gets rid of big time players, and Baltimore somehow benefits. Though it was most likely a huge coincidence, fate and the football gods had to even it out at some point, and the Cundiff kick was the equalizer. Pollard and Baltimore, you had that heartbreaker coming.
If the Jets were smart, they’d be the next to acquire the assassin’s services.