by Jordy McElroy
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… No, it’s Vontaze Burfict launching himself headfirst like a missile into another defenseless receiver.
The Oakland Raiders’ troubled linebacker was suspended for the rest of the season on Monday after landing an egregiously outright dirty hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle on Sunday. A season-long ban could even be considered as merciful for a player with a rap sheet the length of a five-year-old’s Christmas list.
Burfict has clearly been on the naughty list long enough to receive a lifetime ban from playing in the NFL. He has been fined or suspended 13 times for illegal hits, which have added up to a whopping $469,000 worth of fines.
How many opportunities is he going to have to intentionally hurt someone before the deed is irreparable? When is the league going to step in and say enough is enough?
Perhaps the most disturbing part about the entire ordeal was the completely unapologetic and churlish antics Burfict displayed after he was ejected from the football game. He casually jogged off the field smiling and blowing kisses to the crowd. It was the kind of behavior coming from a player that looked like he didn’t give a damn about the rules.
And why should he? The worst case scenario has always been sitting out a few games, paying a few fines and returning to the field where he can repeat the process over again. It’s a broken record at this point. Rinse, wash and repeat.
This isn’t the ‘80s and ‘70s, when de-cleating opposing players in helmet-on-helmet collisions came with hi-fives and cool points. So you can stop with the “good ole’ day” comparisons to players like Jack Tatum and Bill Romanowski.
Just because players wore leather helmets in the 1940s doesn’t mean it’s wise to continue doing so now.
The continued evolution in medical science has changed the safety parameters around the game. While some of the rules can feel annoying at times and a bit handicapping for defensive players, they have ultimately been put into place to improve the overall safety in the league.
Yet, no rules in any era should justify the sort of hit Burfict put on Doyle. Not only was it a dangerous play, but it was also an incredibly selfish one as well. That play caused the Raiders a 15-yard penalty and took him off the field for the rest of the game. It’s hard to find the humor in that situation for such a blatant repeat offender.
This is the same player that put Antonio Brown’s lights out three years ago and cost his former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, a wild-card playoff game.
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Burfict plans on appealing the season-long suspension at some point this week, which his agent Lamont Smith referred to as “excessive” for a “football play.” Good luck with that argument in defense of a player that has put out more illegal hits than Napster. The only thing excessive about this whole narrative is the NFL allowing it to go on for so long.
Burfict is a 29-year-old veteran player with a complete understanding of the rulebook by now. He deserves as much sympathy as he showed Doyle on Sunday.
There’s simply no place for that sort of behavior in today’s NFL, especially when the league is attempting to be more conscientious of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and various forms of head trauma.
Burfict’s latest victim should be his last.