The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the indianapolis Colts 24-23 on Sunday, and the defense was a big part of actually closing out the game, but Vontaze Burfict still may end up hearing from the league office for his behavior.
Here is the play in question:
Now there are a lot of reasons why this isn’t okay. Clearly that isn’t a player. He doesn’t even look like a coach. Burfict is an NFL player, and he really could’ve knocked that guy over with a push.
Still he didn’t do much. We can’t tell if the guy held him. Although even if he did it could’ve been to prevent both of them from falling down. The guy could’ve even said something, but that is doubtful considering he was probably more concerned with getting out of the way of the 200 some pound linebacker running right at him.
Burfict is notorious for tip toeing the line, and he has crossed it quite a few times. He is the NFL’s poster boy for player punishment. He even served a three-game suspension, that was reduced from five, for a hit that was arguably legal.
He is coming fresh off kicking a Steelers’ player in the head, although the NFL decided it wasn’t worth a suspension. It was easy to see with the full video that the Roosevelt Nix came over to the pile late.
Burfict should have felt like dodged a bullet though. When his last suspension got reduced the NFL sent Burfict a very strongly worded letter that included this:
"This is not your first offense with respect to illegal hits to defenseless players; to the contrary, this incident is consistent with your pattern of egregious safety-related violations including your hit on a defenseless player during the 2015 Wild Card game and your hit against a Baltimore tight end away from the play on January 3, 2016…When players violate the rules intended to protect player safety on a repeated basis, and particularly when the violations carry with them a significant risk of injury to an opposing player…you must be held accountable for this continuing unacceptable conduct."
Whether you think this incident was dirty or not clearly there is a risk of Burfict getting some sort of discipline from the league. The obvious difference with this incident than others is it involved someone who wasn’t a player. There is no way of knowing how much that will play into this, but it is hard to imagine that won’t have an effect on the league’s decision.
Burfict has started every game since returning from his suspension, and the Bengals have been 3-1 with him playing so far this season. He played every single defensive snap last week with Nick Vigil.
The Bengals also can’t afford to lose Burfict to suspension since they are already thin at linebacker with Kevin Minter out with an injury. The team would be forced to play their rookie linebacker Jordan Evans. Evans was impressive during the preseason, but you’d like to not have to rely on him for a full game quite yet.
Hopefully for the Bengals’ sake this blows over, and somehow some way Burfict stops finding himself in these positions.