Bernard Pollard has never been shy about expressing his opinion. The Ravens strong safety solidified his reputation for speaking candidly during an interview today at the Ravens complex and earlier in the day on Thursday during an appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.
However, Pollard does openly wonder why after four preseason and two regular season games, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hasn't rectified the situation with the regular referees and gotten them back on the field.
"He is quick to jump on board when something else is happening. I don't know what he's doing right now but I don't see any steps being taken," Pollard said today, echoing statements that he made earlier in the day on a Boston-area radio show. "They should have nipped this thing in the bud immediately. We're going on our third game. Something needs to be done."
Asked if he is concerned about getting fined, Pollard said, "I'm entitled to my own opinion. What does my opinion matter? What is it, two cents and a cup of coffee? I just think for us as players, we have to speak out about this because it's getting out of hand."
Pollard is the latest Raven to speak out about the performance of the replacement officials. Quarterback Joe Flacco and middle linebacker Ray Lewis were highly critical of the officiating crew following the Ravens' 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
He had a few more thoughts on the issue Thursday morning on 98.5 in Boston. After addressing his nickname of "The Patriots Killer" and working with inside linebacker Ray Lewis, Pollard took aim at the replacement officials who have drawn increased scrutiny after last weekend's games.
"As I've said before, this is way out of their league," he began. "It's too fast, guys are too crafty, and they cannot control the game. My issue is, we have our commissioner [Roger Goodell] who is jumping on board to hammer every other issue down in the NFL. He is jumping on board to get meetings with players when things are happening, but we have something on hand that is messing up the integrity of the league and nothing is being done about it. These guys need to be out, they need to be out. I respect them as men. They were put in a position they can't handle it. But who is going to turn down an NFL officiating gig when you probably are going to get paid more than you got paid in the Lingerie League or whatever? Who is going to turn that down? But when it's all said and done, the commissioner needs to do something about it. I think for us as players, all we can do as players is go play football. We get paid to perform and we have to go out there and perform. I understand that sometimes in the heat of the battle, we get pissed off at the refs because when we see that it's a blatant call that they missed or a call that they made. You have guys out here calling a holding penalty, and it's a 10-yard penalty and they're giving us 15 yards or they're pointing at the wrong team. It's just stuff like this that is just bad. For fans, for players, for this league, I think Goodell needs to step in immediately. I don't know what's happening behind the scenes. But I can tell you right now, when things that you don't know are happening behind the scenes, you hear about them because he's already scheduling meetings, and you hear The NFL Network, ESPN and all this other stuff. I think this is one of the situations where he needs to get on it, and get on it fast."
Pollard said his sentiments are not new among fellow players, who feel that they can have their way with the replacement officials.
"These guys are star-struck," he said. "Even in the preseason one of the refs saw [Ravens quarterback] Joe Flacco and he was amazed. I was thinking 'Wow, what if this was [New England Patriots quarterback Tom] Brady? What if this was [Atlanta Falcons tight end] Tony Gonzalez? All these other guys?' I understand these guys are star-struck. I understand they respect us as players and they respect certain men that they've seen or watched. But when it's all said and done, you have to step on that field and you cannot be bullied. When you throw that flag, you stand by that flag. When you make one of those calls, you point and you point with power and you point with integrity, and I just think these guys, they don't have it. This is over their heads. But when it's all said and done, this is something the officials – the real officials – the league and the owners have to iron this thing out. They need to meet. They need to meet now because this has gone too far. Four preseason games, two regular-season games and there's going to be a third, they need to meet and they need to meet now. I just hope they get everything that they're asking for and can get back quick."
Pollard was then asked if he thinks the league is disrespecting players by not negotiating with the referees and getting them back to the field.
"I'm not going to say they're disrespecting the safety," he said. "I just think this is what happens when you have replacement officials. I don't want to say they're disrespecting. I just really feel like right now, the officials that they have are cheaper. The officials that they have now, they try to school them up as much as they can, but when it's all said and done, these guys have not done it. These guys have come from college football, high school football, and the Lingerie League. We're not women running around. We're running around, and we're bigger, stronger, faster and we're getting bigger, stronger and faster year in and year out. Guys are craftier, they know what to do, and guys have tempers. So when a guy looks at you a certain way and you get scared, this is not happening with the other officials. Nobody's perfect. We all make bad plays and people make bad calls. But when it's all said and done, everything that is happening every single game – and it's consistently happening – something needs to be done about it."