On Thursday, the NFL upheld a three-game suspension on Vontaze Burfict that will see the Bengals playing without their star linebacker for Weeks 1-3 of 2016.
Having just finished his fourth NFL season in 2015, Burfict was suspended for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules. To this point, Burfict hasn't received a lot of public support from anyone outside of Cincinnati. The good news is, Bengals teammates and coaches have rallied around him and showed support during what has to be one of the tougher times during his pro career.
Now, former Bengals safety and current NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots is expressing his support for Burfict. Wilcots admits that there are aspects of Tez's game that he must change, but he's still someone Wilcots wants on his team.
"I think he really does have to alter his game. He's gotta really play accordingly to the new safety protocols. There's no doubt about it. But I like Vontaze Burfict as a person and as a football player. I want him on my football team, but he's gotta make some changes to the ways that he's playing the game."
Wilcots pointed out how all of Burfict's issues are very fixable -- and coachable -- if the Bengals make it a point to help him correct them.
"These are coachable things," Wilcots said. "There has been nothing in terms of off-the-field concerns that you had when he was coming into the league. You talk to Mike Zimmer, he loves Vontaze Burfict. He has coached Vontaze Burfict. The Cincinnati Bengals want Vontaze Burfict on their football team, and that's all he needs and that's all we need to talk about."
Wilcots makes a lot of great points on Burfict, his problems and how the heated rivalry between the Bengals and Steelers has only thrown fuel onto Burfict's fire.