Embracing the villain role could be good for Burfict, Bengals

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) reacts on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) reacts on the sidelines during the second quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Embracing the role as the “bad boys” of the NFL could actually be very beneficial for the Vontaze Burfict and the Cincinnati Bengals.

A heartbreaking Wild Card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers saw the media and fans labelling the Cincinnati Bengals as “a bunch of thugs,” “classless” and many other negative names, but embracing the villain role could be good for Cincinnati.

Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones were the center of an anti-Bengals media firestorm, which has reignited opinions that the Bengals are classless, that Marvin Lewis has no control over his team and that Cincinnati takes chances on players who don’t deserve a chance at all.

In all actuality, however, most NFL teams employ hothead players who can give their team a spark. Most notably, Dez BryantPhilip RiversNdamukong SuhJames HarrisonBrandon Marshall and Aqib Talib have all been incredibly effective despite the occasional on-field temper tantrum.

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Like these aforementioned players, Vontaze Burfict is a hothead. He has a reputation for being a dirty player, whether by twisting ankles in the pile, laying out

Maxx Williams

with an

incredibly cheap hit

or by running into a cameraman. His hit on

Antonio Brown

wasn’t dirty

, yet Brown and football fans across the country cite that specific hit as one of the main reasons why Burfict is a “thug.”

But maybe being called names isn’t such a bad thing.

From 1979-1994, the Detroit Pistons were the “bad boys” of the NFL, hated by fans everywhere outside of Detroit. Despite the bad reputation, the Pistons advanced to the NBA Finals in three straight seasons, winning back-to-back titles after losing in their first appearance.

Throughout the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, the New England Patriots have been one of the most hated teams in football, mainly due to their success but also because of the thought that they’re cheaters (when in all actuality, every NFL team cheats). The Steelers have been rightfully hated for their dirty play, but ultimately, they’re one of the most successful franchises in NFL history.

Whether or not Vontaze Burfict deserved the negative attention he got in Cincinnati’s Wild Card loss, looking at the past isn’t going to help now. Cincinnati would be looked on negatively after the loss, regardless of which player would’ve been labeled as the goat.

Next: Firing Lewis would destroy Bengals' Super Bowl Hopes

Now that Cincinnati is a hated team, it should embrace the negativity coming from opposing fans and use it as a chip on their shoulder. After all, teams with chips on their shoulders tend to be the ones who win games–and ultimately, championships.

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