Ike Taylor: Burfict’s hit on Brown was clean

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Burfict was called for a personal foul on the play. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) hits Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) during the fourth quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Burfict was called for a personal foul on the play. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Vontaze Burfict has been under scrutiny all week after making a hit that was perceived as dirty on Antonio Brown. But Ike Taylor doesn’t think the hit was dirty at all.

Vontaze Burfict has been labeled as a “thug” by media and fans all week long, but it’s difficult to determine whether his hit on Antonio Brown was even intentionally dirty.

As Brown–the league’s best receiver, by the way–tried to come down with a catch, Burfict grazed the receiver with his shoulder. From one angle, the hit looks perfectly clean, while from another angle, it looks like it a potentially dirty play.

If Brown came down with the catch, Burfict’s hit would’ve been celebrated all week long as one of the best hits of playoff history. Additionally, if a flag wasn’t thrown, fans would celebrate Burfict’s hit as another of his extremely clutch plays versus the Steelers.

Frankly, while the media made it very clear that Burfict seemed to be playing out of control, he actually kept his composure very well. When David DeCastro pancaked Burfict into the end zone moments after a play was already over, the linebacker didn’t retaliate. When Joey Porter yelled at Burfict from the sidelines, the linebacker didn’t acknowledge the coach. When Porter later came onto the field, Burfict seemed to walk away.

Overall, it seems as though the media was on a mission to throw shade at Burfict for his hit on Brown, when he managed to keep his composure throughout a game in which Steelers players and coaches were trying to get under his skin.

Let’s go back to the Brown hit. Was it truly a dirty, inexcusable hit?

Here’s what former Jaguars running back and current NFL analyst Maurice Jones-Drew had to say:

It’s tough for Burfict in that situation, because when a receiver’s in the air, you don’t go to where he is–you go to where he’s [going to] land. So you’re not really seeing whether he catches the ball or not, you’re looking for a spot to hit him.” Jones insinuated that the hit was clean.

Former Steelers corner Ike Taylor added this:

“It’s the chicken wing, right there…That’s a clean hit. They’re (Steeler fans and the media) going to be mad at me but I feel like it’s a clean hit. It’s just Burfict–his resumé and his reputation [represent him as a] dirty player.”

Others who have defended Burfict’s hit include Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders and current Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

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Taylor’s defense of Burfict is one of the very first defenses that really seems authentic, in the sense that he’s not being paid to defend the Bengals linebacker. Why would a former Steeler, being paid by the NFL, have any reason to defend Burfict? This defense just seems very genuine, and it’s nice to see during a week in which Burfict has been crucified by the media.

A common theme among those accusing Burfict is the apparent anger that comes out every time his name is mentioned. But these people seem to be more angry with Burfict’s shoulder-to-helmet hit than with Odell Beckham‘s dirty antics this season or Ndamukong Suh‘s stomp a few years back.

It’s possible people are angry because Antonio Brown could miss his next playoff game, although it’s hard to imagine the Steelers receiver sitting out in Denver. Maybe they’re taking out their anger from Burfict’s insanely dirty hit on Maxx Williams. All in all, there has to be something behind the scenes causing people to get this mad about what seems like a single play.

Next: Bengals loss devastating, but not a new low

Face it, this play by Burfict wasn’t the dirtiest play of the game, and it wasn’t his dirtiest of the season. Burfict was slapped a three-game suspension, despite a complete lack of precedent for such a suspension and will be hated by opposing fans for the rest of his career.

Something fishy is going on when a shoulder-to-helmet hit is getting this much negative attention.

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