Bernard Pollard played all but one play of the Super Bowl with six broken ribs.
The Ravens safety broke six ribs over the course of the season. After sitting out the final three games of the regular season and having two weeks of rest before the Super Bowl, they were feeling pretty good.
That was until 250-pound 49ers tight end Vernon Davis landed squarely on Pollard's ribs on the first play from scrimmage of Super Bowl XLVII.
To make matters worse, the play was called back because of an illegal formation, so the tackle was for nothing.
"It sucks, man, but whatever," Pollard said as he slowly cleaned out his locker Wednesday.
"I shouldn't have even helped anyways. I should have let [Davis] be."
Pollard didn't speak of the severity of his injury during the season because he didn't want opposing players to target him. But he had been playing through pain nearly all season long.
He broke three ribs when outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw hit him during the Week 2 game in Philadelphia. He broke two more when teammate Chykie Brown hit him in practice in mid-November. Pollard broke the sixth when Ed Reed hit him on the first play of the game in Week 14 in Washington.
The Ravens' own physical tackling took out their own teammate by accident.
"For all of us as football players, there's just pain period," Pollard said. "It's a very rough sport, a very intense sport. The thing about your ribs, and especially with the player I am, you need all that to wrap up, tackle, do the things you want to hitting wise, run, breathe. It gets tough sometimes.
"But I think for the most part a lot of teammates count on me to go out there and play 100 percent and do what I can to help them. Sometimes you've got to shut up and put up with it to be a teammate. Everybody understands it."
Pollard knew immediately that he re-broke his ribs. He briefly saw the team doctor, but did not miss a play the entire game.
"I just knew I wasn't going to be able to be the same player I wanted to be," said Pollard, who bounced off receiver Michael Crabtree when the 49ers scored their first touchdown in the third quarter.
"As far as the hits and everything else, I knew it was going to be tough."
Pollard said fellow safety Ed Reed hurt his knee later in the first quarter and also saw the team doctor. Reed said that he played through the game with two sprained MCLs. Both laughed through the pain on the sideline a little bit.
"We said, 'This is meant to be,'" Pollard recounted. "'We have to win.'"