Two months ago, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was fined $75,000 for allegedly stomping on Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount’s ankle. The incredibly hefty fine appeared to be a warning shot from the NFL, as $75,000 is a substantial amount of cash to swipe from a player for any reason, let alone an alleged stomp in which there is still no clear angle on film. In any case, Burfict was fined and his reputation took another corresponding hit.
Following Sunday’s game, Ben Roethlisberger called Burfict out, even claiming the linebacker’s teammates were fed up with his antics. Mike Mitchell called out Marvin Lewis for even mentioning his name in the same sentence as Burfict’s. Prior to the game, Le’Veon Bell claimed the Bengals would target him and try to deliberately end his season. But on Sunday, the dirtiest play of the day came from a player donning white and yellow (it’s not gold, Steeler fans).
Following the second offensive play of the second half, right tackle Marcus Gilbert shoved Burfict to the ground. Burfict landed on top of David DeCastro, who then rolled over onto the linebacker, instigating a fight. When the referees were finally able to break up the dispute, DeCastro marched back toward Burfict, appearing to stomp on his leg.
Film (courtesy NFL): Watch David DeCastro deliberately stomp on Vontaze Burfict following a penalty on Marcus Gilbert. pic.twitter.com/N2n7QLSVTb— Connor Howe (@HoweNFL) December 21, 2016
Here are some other angles:
No, there’s not definitive video evidence that DeCastro managed to stomp on Burfict’s leg. Neither the broadcast angle nor all-22 showed an angle in which DeCastro’s foot makes contact with Burfict’s leg. But then again, there wasn’t definitive evidence when Burfict appeared to do the same to Blount, and the linebacker was shorted $75,000.
When I tweeted out a Vine of Blount trying to gauge at the eyes of Shawn Williams following the clip of Burfict’s alleged stomp going viral, the NFL had my Vine removed on account of copyright violations — my entire Vine feed is filled with NFL material, but only the Vine in which Blount stuck his hand in Williams’ facemask was removed. And of course, the viral video of Burfict’s alleged stomp was not removed, though several videos with alternate angles of the incident, which made it seem like it didn’t happen, were removed by the league.
I can see one of four things happening here. The NFL could ignore the video, just as it has ignored things like the video of Blount poking at Williams’ eyes. The NFL could also punish DeCastro like most Bengals fans probably expect them to do, given that the player’s intentions are more than clear. The NFL could acknowledge the play happened but make an excuse for DeCastro, given that he doesn’t have an extensive track record. Or, finally, the NFL could acknowledge the play happened but explain that it overreacted on the incident that occurred earlier in the season, going easy on DeCastro — like it did with the Giants’ “WalkieLeaks” scandal.
Though the video angle isn’t perfect, DeCastro’s intentions are more than clear here. It will be interesting to see whether the NFL punishes the Steelers guard for his actions, at a minimum, for pinning Burfict on the ground and attempt to wrestle with him.