One of the NFL’s most controversial players has made news again. Vontaze Burfict was suspended five games, for a hit in preseason. Based on the latest NFL trends, players like Burfict may soon be a thing of the past.
Today’s NFL has changed drastically from the league of forty years ago. Players were once lauded for big hits, leading with the helmet, and even knocking a player out of games. Even as late as the 2000s, there was a segment on ESPN focusing on big hits called Jacked Up. Nowadays, players are flagged and fined for those same things even if they are technically clean hits.
No. 55 Strikes Again
Vontaze Burfict should know by now that the NFL won’t let unnecessary hits go unpunished. However, that didn’t stop him incurring the wrath of the NFL once again for a hit on fullback Anthony Sherman in the Bengals’ second preseason game against the Chiefs. The hit was on a pass catcher considered “defenseless” as Sherman was looking back at the quarterback. All of the action occurred away from the play, thus making the hit irrelevant.
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By now, Burfict has to understand that something like this wouldn’t be tolerated by the NFL. The league itself is in a difficult spot with so much emphasis being placed on the concussions that players have suffered. Thus, the NFL is more than ever obligated to make it look like player safety is their top priority. For that reason, they are looking to penalize players responsible for “dangerous” plays to the utmost extent of the law. Burfict, a past offender, fits the bill perfectly. Whether the suspension is warranted by the letter of the law in the NFL doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Burfict still doesn’t seem to understand.
Not The First Time
From twisting Cam Newton‘s ankle to hitting Antonio Brown helmet to helmet, there is no shortage of dirty plays on Burfict’s rap sheet. Why then is he still on the team? Up to this point, management has felt that Burfict’s play on the field outweighed his antics. However, maybe it’s time for the Bengals to move on from their troubled linebacker. Burfict’s value is nil, if he can’t get on the field. Unfortunately, he seems intent on continuing to do things that will get him penalties and suspensions. Fans have already seen his reckless play lead to a playoff loss, why take the risk of having it happen again?
Considering the recent news that the Bengals extended Burfict’s contract, the team clearly thinks he’s integral to the defense. They must either believe that he is done getting suspended, or they simply don’t care about his past issues. One thing is certain, if he continues on the path he has been going, he won’t be able to play for the team. Roger Goodell will make sure of that.