Earn a spot on an NFL roster. Check.
Start in a regular season game in the NFL. Check.
Make the sport's All-Star game. Check.
Get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Next.
Parting from the team this week, former Bengals defensive coordinator, and current Minnesota Vikings head coach, Mike Zimmer, offered one final motivator for linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
"Zim was telling me if I keep doing the things I have to do and keep my head on straight and stay out of trouble, there's no reason I shouldn't be in Canton," Burfict said via Bengals.com. "That's going to be another goal for my career. You always want to be the greatest player that you can be."
Burfict, drafted by Team Rice, is the first Bengals linebacker to make the Pro Bowl since Jim LeClair ('76) after posting a league-high 171 tackles. The Bengals, who review each game to get a more accurate tackle-number, recorded 204 stops. And during his rookie season, Burfict posted a team-high 174 tackles.
Zimmer's departure is bittersweet for Burfict, but he's giving his full support to former Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther.
"Paul's been with me ever since I've been a Bengal. I probably wouldn't be here without him and Marvin (Lewis). They made me the linebacker I am today," Burfict said. "He's been here before and he can show me around a little bit and he can have a little vacation, too."
"It's bad losing Zim because he's a great coach and I got along with him very well," Burfict said. "It's awesome Coach G got the job. He knows the defense as much as Zim and they have good qualities from each other. My job is to be better than last year and help him out. There's no setback. We can keep it going. I don't know if it's the same defense or how we're going to go. But everyone gets along well with Coach G and it should be good."