The house cleaning continued in Owings Mills on Wednesday, as Bernard Pollard was handed his walking papers after two seasons in purple.
This departure, unlike that of Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe, was clearly and comfortably the choice of John Harbaugh and the Ravens organization. In simple terms, Pollard’s constant complaining and locker room blow-ups finally caught up to him.
That Pollard leaves a champion is a testament to his intensity and competitive fire. He was an important part of the team that captured the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3. Few players in the league hit with more tenacity. The term “play like a Raven” was seemingly created with players like Bernard Pollard in mind.
With the good, though, came a lot of bad. Pollard was a troublesome figure in the clubhouse, which is why he won’t be around in Baltimore next season.
“This wasn’t all about quality of play,” a source said on Wednesday after the news about Pollard’s termination went public. “It was about locker room tranquility and chemistry.”
While there wasn’t one single incident that doomed Pollard, a series of friction-filled events contributed to the club finally saying “enough is enough”. The most notable of those was a post-game blow-up in Washington where the hard-hitting safety openly bashed linebacker Josh Bynes in front of the entire team and within earshot of several media members who were in the vicinity of the locker room setting up for post-game interviews.
“It was completely uncalled for,” said a 2012 teammate. “From a team standpoint, the last thing we needed that day was to have one guy pitting himself against someone else. And to pick on Josh like that? It was wrong.”
Pollard’s role in the bye-week practice fiasco is well known by now. When Harbaugh suggested the team practice in pads on Wednesday before letting the team have off for the rest of the week, Pollard reacted angrily and rallied several teammates to demand a lighter, easier practice session. To his credit, Harbaugh took the high road and gave in, deciding, apparently, that the battle wasn’t worth winning when the season was still very much in the balance.
“He was always complaining about something,” the teammate remembered. “Nothing was ever right in Bernard’s eyes. After a while it got kind of old. And a lot of guys in the locker are John Harbaugh fans. Bernard was very anti-John and open about it. He didn’t really hide it.”
It’s one thing for a player to butt heads with the coach. That happens all the time. But, in this case, players – lots of them – were worn out by Pollard’s locker room antics and in-game reckless play that appeared to be more about the safety just doing things “his way” and not fitting in with the rest of the team.
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