Another week, another Vontaze Burfict controversy that's probably being made into a bigger story of than it really is.
Last week, it was Burfict's hit on running back Le'Veon Bell and post-hit celebration that angered the Steelers. Now, Burfict is getting heat for what appeared to be an accidental hit on a cameraman during Thursday night's win over the Browns.
The act in question came at the end of the first quarter on a 3rd-and-goal play with the Browns looking to tie the game. Johnny Manziel dropped back to pass as Burfict ended up covering tight end Gary Barnidge and ran with him toward the back of the end zone where Manziel fired the ball incomplete out of bounds. Burfict was going full speed next to Barnidge as he ran under the sailing pass as his momentum caused him to run into a cameraman.
In the process of the play, the camera was knocked back into the face of operator Jim Strickler, according to WLWT. He's a team employee and member of the scoreboard crew at Paul Brown Stadium. He had to be bandaged up after the incident but continued to shoot the game.
"I could see it was coming right at me, or right close to me, and I expected the ball to either hit me or hit the camera or be in close proximity. I didn't expect to get run into," Strickler said.
As you can see above, Burfict walked off after the play without saying sorry (it appears) or even helping Strickler up. It doesn't help that Burfict appears to push off the camera as it's already falling down. Head coach Marvin Lewis has since said Burfict wants to reach out to the cameraman and apologize for what happened, though Burfict may have also been asked to do so:
Marvin Lewis says Vontaze Burfict has been asked to reach out to the injured camera operator once the cameraman gets off clock w/ other job.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) November 6, 2015
Marvin Lewis says he and the team are glad the cameraman wasn't more seriously injured. Sounds like the cameraman is taking this in stride.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) November 6, 2015
Marvin said Vontaze wants to reach out and apologize to cameraman. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) November 6, 2015
When the cameraman was told Brufict wants to reach out and apologize to him, Marvin said he said Burfict doesn't need to do that. #Bengals— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) November 6, 2015
So, it sounds like the Bengals want Burfict to apologize, but Lewis doesn't think that's necessary, but Burfict still wants to. Either way, Burfict probably should apologize to Strickler, even though it was likely an accident that led to him being cut and needing to be bandaged up.
Per the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals released a statement acknowledging incidents like this are part of the job:
"He and all other people that work those jobs are fully aware those positions entail some physical risk because close to action and course of the play is unpredictable."
Strickler is expected to be back at the stadium performing his job for the Bengals' next game against the Texans on Monday Night Football.
Don't expect the NFL to make anything out of this. This really isn't as big of a story as it's being made out to be, though Burfict has put himself in a position where he's not going to get the benefit of the doubt.