If you haven’t watched the interview between ESPN’s Josina Anderson and Vontaze Burfict, it was a really good view into Burfict’s thoughts, during the game, after the game, and even now.
Unfortunately, media reaction wins again, especially in perception of a player with a reputation. John Breech of CBS Sports even went so far as to say he completely blames his teammates for the loss. My question is, why shouldn’t he? We have broken down the, why he should have avoided it, but here is why he had every right to say what he did.
Bengals fans have defended Vontaze Burfict’s hit with timing and positioning. Same with guys like NFL Analyst Deion Sanders, right after the game. Burfict went as far to say that he puts the hit on himself and that it is the only part he is to blame for.
"“I felt bad about that play because I hurt teammates and my coaches.”"
What about that is taking no blame for what happened? Ms. Anderson goes on to ask him if he blames himself, he said no, as he should because he has moved on. She then asked the most critical question that the media is ignoring:
"“What portion of the result do you put on yourself and some of your actions in the game?”"
Burfict’s answer was perfect and professional:
"“Honestly, just the hit”"
Again, taking blame for his portion of the game that helped the Bengals to the last minute collapse.
Now going back to what this article is about, he did say that he trusted his teammates and they didn’t do their job, and he is right. Even Jeremy Hill has acknowledged his part in the loss with the fumble. If Hill holds onto the ball, the Bengals get a shot at a field goal and a lead that would have forced a touchdown only situation.
In fact, it is something Hill has struggled with in his short Bengals career. He has eight fumbles during the regular season, five lost, in two seasons, with five of those fumbles coming in 2015. That excludes his fumble against Pittsburgh in the playoffs, which was obviously lost.
Granted, he has less fumbles per touch than a former Bengals player who was almost run out of town, but Jermaine Gresham was criticized for his lack of ball handling skills. Gresham had 11 fumbles and six lost in his five seasons with the Bengals. Hill has almost matched that in less than half the time in Cincinnati.
Adam Jones should have never opened his mouth and pushed Joey Porter, and Porter should have never been on the field to begin with. Vontaze Burfict took responsibility for his part in the loss. Just because he doesn’t blame himself and says he trusted his teammates who didn’t come through doesn’t mean it isn’t truth, and he is purely blaming everyone else.
Paul Guenther and Mike Zimmer have both talked about the intelligence of Burfict, and I don’t doubt it. The way Burfict addressed that interview was nothing short of intelligent and well spoken. However, the NFL should be reviewing its own policy if they truly never actually spoke to Burfict before the suspension or the appeal, which is suppose to hear the player and players association side before making a decision.
Vontaze Burfict is a hard nose player, he is respected by coaches to try to adjust for him and players fear his play when he is on the field. I think the question now is, can Burfict stay out of trouble with newly proposed rules turning the sport into even more of a two hand touch game.