No one should question the Bengals and Steelers sporting one of the NFL's best rivalries right now, nor should there be any debating over which player has been at the center of it.
Though the battles have been heated throughout the past decade, they've reached new levels recently, thanks in large part to Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. However, the Pro Bowl linebacker wants you to think Pittsburgh is just another team to him, as Tim Rohan of the MMQB writes.
"I don’t give no f---s about them," Burfict said. "Zero. You can write that, too. I don’t give no f---s about them. They’re just another team. They don’t scare me. Just another team."
Big tackles from Burfict led to season-ending injuries to running back Le'Veon Bell - who suffered a torn MCL (on a legal hit) - and All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown - who suffered a concussion in the Wild Card playoff game (on an illegal hit) and led to him missing the Divisional Round loss to Denver.
Burfict also put a big hit on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in that Wild Card game, which injured his shoulder and limited him in practice leading up to the narrow Divisional Round loss to Denver.
Unfortunately for Burfict, the concussion-inducing hit on Brown helped contribute to a three-game suspension for Burfict to start the 2016 season, though he doesn't seem too worried about it.
On the suspension, Burfict told the MMQB, "S---, I didn’t really care. You’ve got to learn from your mistakes. That’s it."
As for head coach Marvin Lewis' theme to play with more poise going forward, Burfict thinks he's fine with that as well.
“We always play with poise," Burfict said. "There’s just some times in a game when you’ll lose it.”
Burfict has managed to make this not only pro football's most drama-filled rivalry, but one of the better rivalries you'll see in any sport. Hopefully this year though, that drama is purely due to impressive football plays rather than off-the-field antics or injuries.