Rogue NFL Mercenary Vontaze Burfict Gets Three-Game Suspension
In the least surprising football news of the week, the NFL has announced that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season in 2016. According to ESPN, Burfict was sanctioned for repeated violations of player-safety rules, and he will be appealing the suspension.
Although three games is a decisive indictment on the way that Burfict plays football, it still somehow feels like not enough when you take his entire body of work into consideration. But for now, it's start.
The news release from the NFL cited Burfict's transgressions in the Bengals' wild card playoff game against the Steelers on Saturday, in which he was called for unnecessary roughness after spearing a defenseless Antonio Brown in the helmet. Brown left the field after the hit and is under concussion protocol as a result.
The decision, handed down by vice president of football operations Merton Hanks, was based not only on Burfict's infractions in the Bengals most recent game, but also on the fact that he has been fined previously for unnecessary hits and has established a pattern of behavior. The full NFL statement also makes it clear that disciplinary action against other members of both teams could be forthcoming.
"...Burfict’s most recent violation came with 22 seconds remaining in last Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness for using his shoulder to make forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver...
Burfict has previously been fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play in Cincinnati’s Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens...
The conduct of other players and coaches in the Steelers-Bengals game is being reviewed for potential discipline."
If the suspension is upheld after Burfict's appeal, he will be docked over half a million dollars from his 2016 base salary, in addition to the three-game ban.
And despite the fact that it was obvious to literally anyone and everyone who watched on Saturday night that Burfict had gone completely rogue over the course of the game, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said that he didn't think Burfict ever went over the edge.
"He's had three penalties this season for unnecessary roughness... Let's not take things out of context, and understand it," said Lewis. "Let's judge the body of work."
He also confusingly acknowledged the team's reputation for a particularly dirty style of play, while simultaneously saying that they play within the rules.
"Unfortunately, we earned some reputations, and we have to eliminate that by continuing to play well within the rules, with the way he plays...He plays very well within the rules, and we have to keep doing that."
Lewis wasn't the only one defending Burfict either. His defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, and equally erratic and possibly more psychotic teammate Adam 'Pacman' Jones, both said that they thought he was actually trying to avoid intentionally injuring Brown by trying to use his shoulder rather than his helmet.
Jones also goes so far as to say on the Dan Patrick Show that he believes Brown embellished the seriousness of his injury and was actually fine.
"I said you alright AB? And he gave me a wink," said Jones.
"Antonio Brown was not hurt. I know he was faking. Go back and look at the play. If you go back and slow-motion play, you tell me that Vontaze hit him in the head or did his shoulder pads barely touch him?"
If you can stomach it, go ahead do just that. Watch the play.
If you still feel the need for more proof that Burfict is a dangerously dirty player, let me direct you to the hit he delivered just a week before on Ravens tight end Maxx Williams.
He's singlehandedly trying to ruin guys careers - and possibly their lives. But don't worry, Roger Goodell will probably address it as soon as he's done with his 13 month battle with Tom Brady over PSI.