Rob Gronkowski calls out former safety for dirty plays against the Patriots

Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) reacts against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Now that several former Patriots have moved on to become more involved in podcasting or media in general, we're starting to hear more behind-the-scenes details about what life was like during the Bill Belichick era, or better yet, their opinions on things that we have not heard before.

Many of those topics can be deemed controversial, but when it comes to events like deflategate, it's relieving to finally hear what the players who experienced such a ridiculous situation have to say about it all.

The leading voice in all of this has been Rob Gronkowski, who seemingly left the Patriots in 2019 due to unresolvable differences with Belichick, leading to his first retirement announcement.

Since officially hanging up his cleats in 2022, he has joined Fox Sports as a commentator and also frequently appears on Julian Edelman's "Games With Names" podcast, where he's revealed his true thoughts on several matters from his days with the Patriots.

The retired tight end has already expressed his dislike for the Colts and their involvement in the start of Deflategate, flatly stating that he hates the Indianapolis team. Now, he's turned his focus to a former safety, whom he believes was a dirty player.

And given his history of hurting Patriots players, it's hard to disagree with what Gronkowski says.

Rob Gronkowski calls out Bernard Pollard for being a "Patriot killer" during his career

During his most recent appearance on Edelman's podcast, Gronkowski spoke about his ankle injury in the 2011 AFC Championship against the Ravens caused by a hip drop tackle by the infamous Bernard Pollard.

It led to the tight end attempting to play through the pain in the Patriots' second Super Bowl against the Giants, which they inevitably lost in heartbreaking fashion once again.

In mentioning Pollard, it reminded Gronkowski of the other Patriot players the safety injured throughout his career, most famously when he hit Tom Brady low in the 2008 season opener, resulting in the quarterback tearing his ACL.

He also mentioned Pollard's involvement in Wes Welker's ACL injury in 2009 while forgetting the safety took out Stevan Ridley during the 2012 AFC Championship game. This made Gronkowski declare Pollard a "Patriot killer" and "dirty player."

"Pollard was kind of like the Patriot killer. He took out [Tom Brady’s] knee. I think he messed up [Wes] Welker as well, in a way. I forgot that injury. He was kind of a Patriot killer. He was a dirty player, I feel like at the time. There was a lot of them back in the day, though, when the rules were kind of like whatever. You could do whatever out there as a defensive player."

Although he seemed pretty direct in how he felt about Pollard, Gronkowski followed up his initial comments by clarifying that the hip-drop tackle he used was a legal play at the time, making the declaration of him being a dirty player potentially an unfair label.

Gronkowski made sure to walk back his comments, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, even if the coincidences of Pollard's involvement in significant Patriots injuries are tough to overlook.

“I ain’t going to say it was a dirty play at all. It was a proper tackle, and he just ended up landing on my ankle. When I fell down, my ankle basically twisted the other way and snapped. It was a high sprain.”

You can add these moments to the long list of what-ifs during the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era in New England. If these players didn't suffer injuries when they had, the team could have gone on to win more Championships.

Maybe that's a spoiled way to look at it since the Patriots won a lot over two decades. However, when the injuries were to some of their best players, it's easy to question how different things would have been had they not missed time on the field.

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