The Cincinnati Bengals are in the news for something bad, so of course, Stephen A. Smith had to weigh in.
The ESPN talking head has had it out for the Bengals and Marvin Lewis for some time. Smith frequently criticizes Lewis for how the Bengals are run, and is always quipping about various players on the team.
Among them is Vontaze Burfict, who is facing a five-game suspension for forgetting he plays in a flag football league. On Monday, Smith weighed in on the ridiculous suspension, which he (shockingly) agrees with.
“The fact is it was a defenseless runner running a route, and you just go up to him and hit him. That’s what you did,” Smith said. “If you’re Vontaze Burfict and you know what your reputation was, why would you do that? Who would you put yourself in that position?”
Smith goes on to detail all of the past fines Burfict has received from the league, which are now in excess of $1 million. That’s an unheard of amount for a player to be fined, let alone it happening within Burfict’s first seven seasons.
Smith did make a good point on “why would you do that?” Burfict has to be smarter and know even his legal plays will be heavily analyzed and scrutinized. So, when he hits a defenseless receiver away from the football, Burfict is going to be in danger of the punishment being handed down to him, regardless of whether it’s fair or not.
“When you know that the tolerance is slim to none when it comes to you based on your history, this is why people look at him and say ‘something’s not right,’” Smith said.
Smith says he actually admires Burfict and what he brings to the field, but the repeated offenses are too much to look past.
“I like the guy as a player a lot,” Smith said. “I’d want him on my team in terms of being somebody that can install and implement that fierce mentality that’s intimidating, but my God, why can’t you do it within the rules?”
It’s hard to argue with a lot of what Smith said, but it’s still a ridiculous suspension for something as minor as this. The NFL wants to keep players safe, but punishing someone so harshly for such a small infraction is indefensible. Even some of Burfict’s biggest detractors think this is a harsh move by the NFL, but the ultimate Bengals detractor that is Stephen A. Smith seems to think it’s right.
But hey, at least Smith gave the Bengals/Burfict some love in this instance. That’s a big step up for someone who seems to only know how to talk poorly about Cincinnati.