Former Ravens Super Bowl Champion ‘Can’t Sympathize’ With Lamar Jackson

Former Ravens DB Bernard Pollard

Getty Former Ravens DB Bernard Pollard sounds off on the current face of the franchise.

After not being able to come to terms with the team’s front office on a lucrative contract extension prior to the start of the 2022 season, Baltimore Ravens franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson decided to go the route of his predecessor Joe Flacco bet on himself in the final year of his rookie contract.

Unfortunately, for the second year in a row, he missed the final stretch of games due to an injury that healed slower than originally expected. Unlike in 2021, the team was still able to weather the storm and make it to the playoffs but it was apparent that his impactful presence was sorely missed in his absence.

One of Flacco’s former teammates who he won a Superbowl with to cap off his fifth year in the league before breaking the bank the following offseason is former Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard. In a recent interview with Kyle Odegard of Compare.bet, the retired defensive back who has simultaneously been one of Jackson’s biggest advocates and harshest critics throughout this entire drawn-out process expressed that he doesn’t have much empathy for the former league MVP because he didn’t adhere to his words of wisdom.

“I can’t sympathize with Lamar because I gave him advice,” Pollard said. “I told him, ‘Do not step on that football field.’ Lamar said, out of his mouth: ‘I’m not going to allow them to play me.’ But I told him if you step on that football field, they played you. They won. You lost. So I can’t sympathize with that. The business is going to do what the business does. (Ravens GM) Eric DeCosta, (owner Steve) Bisciotti and all of them, I knew what they were going to do.”

He and Jackson had a rather aggressive back-and-forth exchange on Twitter last summer that further vilified Pollard in the eyes of even more factions of the fanbase.

Pollard firmly believes that “everything that has taken place” from the harsh criticisms of his character and competitive drive as well as the handling of his injury by the team is Jackson’s fault and “completely” rest on the shoulders of the two-time Pro Bowler.


Another Injury Conspiracy Theory Believer

Count Pollard among the contingent that believed that Jackson could’ve played through his injury in the playoff game at least but opted to sit out, slowplay his rehabilitation process and leave his teammates hanging in order to prove a point of his worth to the organization.

“I don’t think he didn’t get injured, but this is my opinion: I don’t think the injury was significant to where he had to sit out six games,” Pollard said. “I think this is where he took a stand and said, ‘You’re not paying me, we can’t meet (in the middle), so I’m going to show you what you don’t have.’ But when you look at that from a (teammate’s) standpoint, now wait a minute Lamar. We just played all these games with you, won these games, and we were able to put ourselves in position to be in the playoffs.

“We’re better with you on the football field, we have a championship-caliber defense, and now you take the man this offense was made for, and because of a contract dispute you sit out six games? I think it’s bullcrap.”

As a former player that spent 9 years in the league, he also believes that teammates will “turn” on those that “give them a reason to” and thinks that is starting to happen in Baltimore with Jackson.

“They are trying to look at it from a business standpoint, but as a player too it’s like, ‘Wait a minute. My window closes. This was an opportunity for us to make a championship run.’ Guys are going to be pissed about it,” Pollard said.

Contrary to Pollard’s beliefs, several of Jackson’s teammates were outspoken about the severity of Jackson’s injury and how he could be seen walking around the Ravens’ practice facility with a pronounced limp.

“I think that’s a lot of outside noise,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said in an interview on January 16. “We’re here. We get to talk to him. We get to communicate with him. We get to see him rehab. I mean, I was rehabbing with him. I know he put the work in. He just didn’t get back in time.

“Those injuries, I know how it goes. I’ve been injured plenty of times before. Some stuff you can play through, some stuff you can’t. It wasn’t for lack of effort, that’s for sure. The outside world, all the different narratives and stuff … sometimes it’s humorous. Lamar Jackson’s a guy who loves the game of football. I truly believe he worked as hard as he could to give himself a chance to play. As he gets older and more wise, he’ll learn how to take care of his body in different ways.”

Ravens All-Pro left tackle who finally overcame a year and a half battle with an ankle injury that threatened his career at one point also knows how grueling rehabs can be and spoke in defense of his star signal caller and fellow franchise cornerstone.

“I never once questioned Lamar’s tactics when it came to his body,” Stanley said. “He knows what’s going on in his body more than we all know. I felt the same about my situation. There’s a lot of things that may look good to the normal eye that may seem like someone can perform. But when you do this at a high level, you know if you can be effective or not. I trust Lamar.”


Jackson Needs to Cash In Before His Body Breaks Down

Pollard is also among the contingent that believes that the 26-year-old needs to ink a new deal before his value depreciates any further because of his injury history and playing style and that he needs to take more command of whatever offense the team runs going forward.

“I told him, ‘Look dude, you can be mad, but at the end of the day, you need to understand you need to get your money now,’” he said. “If you look at the history of this league, Lamar, running quarterbacks don’t really win Super Bowls. You better learn how to read defenses, take that pacifier out of your mouth to check, and put your offense in better position. Lamar keeps thinking he’s Superman and will run around like he does for 10, 12 years. No, bro. That ain’t happening. You’ve got to be smart.”

Pollard said that Jackson isn’t  “running away from people” like he did in his first two seasons and believes that he is already beginning to show signs that he is “slowing down” despite still being in his mid-20s.

“Every year he gets older and it’s more mileage on his legs, more hits on his body,” Pollard said. He’s not the biggest guy in the world. We’ve got to understand Lamar can’t be putting himself in harm’s way without money behind his name. Kyler Murray’s been signed. Josh Allen, signed. Everybody’s getting contracts. Lamar has got to say, let me sit my behind down so I can get signed.”

The natural evolution of the Ravens’ offense post-Greg Roman will certainly still keep Jackson’s legs and the dangerous threat they present as an integral but hopefully not the focal point of their attack. In their season-ending press conference, both head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta expressed a desire to upgrade his weaponry in the passing game this offseason, particularly at wide receiver which will go a long way to achieving more balance on the offensive side of the ball and depending less on his generational athleticism that will naturally and inevitably deteriorate over time.

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