Vontaze Burfict has a reputation. It’s not a great one and it will probably never go away. Adam Jones has a very similar reputation, also not going away. But, I ask you, “Is that such a bad thing?” Don’t get me wrong, I will never condone foul play on the football field, but having a couple of guys that are intimidating on the defensive side of the ball isn’t such a bad thing, is it?
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Remember Joey Porter? How about Warren Sapp? Rodney Harrison? James Harrison? RAY LEWIS? All of these guys always flirted with the legal/illegal hit line in the NFL, but they will still go down as some of the best in the NFL. All of these players were NEVER given the benefit of the doubt because of their reputation. Yet, every Sunday, opposing teams had to create a game plan around them because of the presence they had, and the potential of creating momentum swinging plays every down. 32 out of 32 teams would of love to have players of these caliber. The reputation is a gamble you take, and there isn’t a team that wouldn’t take that gamble.
I’m not saying Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones are first ballot NFL Hall of Fame players. What I am saying is that we finally, FINALLY, have 2 guys on the defensive side of the ball that won’t shrug off a hit to the mouth, they’ll deliver right back. We have 2 guys that strike fear in opposing teams. We have 2 guys that bring a “swagger” that this Bengals team desperately needs. Again, I’m not condoning playing outside of the rules of the game, but I don’t mind tip-toeing those rules.
Burfict’s reputation started in the 2014 season when he was fined for twisting Cam Newton and Greg Olsen’s ankles in the pile. That’s too far. Since then, he hasn’t had any major infractions, but since he plays under a microscope from that incident, he is often flagged for personal fouls, unsportsmanlike penalties, and the like. Burfict hasn’t had any off the field issues since being drafted, yet gets labeled as a “thug.” I guess he just plays too hard.
Dec 13, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam Jones (L) talks to cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Jones’ reputation started long ago. Way back in 2005 when he was first drafted. We won’t get deep into his past, just know that in 10 years he’s bounced around a lot, was involved in a shooting in a club, was suspended by the NFL for a couple years, had a stint in professional wrestling during that suspension, then landed in Cincinnati.
Jones has said that coming to Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis has saved his life. In his tenure here, his off the field troubles have been next to none. He’s had an incident that included a physical encounter with a woman in downtown Cincinnati, and was asked to leave a casino for being to rowdy. No charges were filed in either incident. Jones did have an incident in the first game of the season with Amari Cooper where he ripped off his helmet and slammed his head in it. Again, too far. Again, I don’t condone breaking the rules. Again, this is the gamble.
I’m not saying to forget the past and think of these guys as role models. What I am saying is, as a fan, why wouldn’t you want these guys on your team? They help win games. They make offenses second guess their play calling. They help bring a swagger. If these guys are playing too rough for you, then the game of football may not be for you. As Bengals fans, let’s embrace it. I understand it can be frustrating at times, but know that in the long run, we’ll gamble and win.