Well, it looks like Vontaze Burfict really did threaten JuJu Smith-Schuster.
This is the play Ben Roethlisberger claims Vontaze Burfict yelled “You’re next!” at Juju Smith-Schuster. You can see Burfict point at Smith-Schuster twice here. pic.twitter.com/WVLXCwtlPw— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 16, 2018
That’s not going to help Burfict’s case, especially since the NFL is reviewing not one, not two, but three questionable plays by him in Sunday’s loss.
Ironically enough, Smith-Schuster was actually suspended by the NFL for one game last year for his illegal hit on Burfict in the Monday night massacre. Part of why the NFL suspended Smith-Schuster was he also stood over Burfict and taunted him after the big hit while Burfict was concussed on the ground.
Perhaps seeing Burfict threatening Smith-Schuster in addition to the questionable hits made will make it harder for the NFL not to hand out a suspension, though for now, a fine is all that’s expected.
I have to confess, I’m tired.
I’m tired of watching the Steelers beat the Bengals at their own game. I won’t disagree with what A.J. Green had to say about the players being more frustrated than the fans, but I can’t deny that it’s a nuisance to watch the same game and hear the noise afterward against the same opponent in the same venue.
Because if for some you didn’t predict it, linebacker Vontaze Burfict resided in the heads of the Steelers offense and the leader of that offense had some things to say about him after their victory.
With that said, Burfict isn’t expected to be suspended, but could be fined for his actions on Sunday against the Steelers.
#Bengals oft-suspended LB Vontaze Burfict is not expected to be suspended for his actions on Sunday, but I’m told there are several plays that will be reviewed for a potential fine. Presumably, one is an elbow to @AB84’s head.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 15, 2018
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger claims that after Burfict’s hit that not only temporarily took out Roethlisberger’s favorite target, Antonio Brown, but also Burfict’s teammate Jessie Bates, Burfict singled out wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
“He hits (Brown), then, literally, as I am under center for the next play, he points at JuJu and says, ‘You’re next,’” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “How do you allow that stuff?”
I’m not sure what anyone is supposed to prevent, considering Smith-Schuster wasn’t physically targeted all game from that point on. Obviously Smith-Schuster is not well liked among Bengals defenders considering he was the one who concussed Burfict last season —and then stood over him as a taunt — but if nothing happened to the young receiver... what is there to do?
Still, Smith-Schuster felt under fire the whole game.
“They were all making threats on me,” Smith-Schuster said. “Burfict was out there lying, saying I spit on him, which I didn’t... This was the most physical game I’ve been in. Their defense was coming after all of us. You could just see it with the talking, the pushing and shoving, the tackling, the extra stuff.”
Steelers players came out strong on Vontaze Burfict’s hit. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert called it “pathetic,” said Bengals LB should be suspended for it. pic.twitter.com/5M4a74vWEZ— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) October 15, 2018
Something did happen to Brown, though he quickly returned from the sideline following the hit, which was not helmet to helmet. Brown got hit with Burfict’s shoulder and Bates got his helmet.
Was the hit necessary? I bet you can guess what Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva thinks:
“That hit on A.B, it’s unnecessary.” Villanueva said. “It’s bad for the game. It’s hurting the National Football League. It’s hurting fans that are deciding if they want to let their kids play football. It’s injuring players in the NFL that are going to have consequences after football. I think there’s no place for that behavior. For him to come out and continue to talk and continue to make this game something more than a football game, it’s very unfortunate.”
It’s hard to disagree with Villanueva’s comments. While Burfict did connect his shoulder with Brown, he did lead with his helmet, which is ultimately why Bates had to also be evaluated for a concussion. The NFL is rightfully trying to steer the game away from these hits, and the Steelers should have every reason to be on board with what happened to their teammate Ryan Shazier last year.
But still, because the Steelers are the ones saying it, you can’t help but notice the hypocrisy.
Smith-Schuster and the Steelers were applauded for taking Burfict out of last year’s game, and Smith-Schuster said that he was getting residual benefits long after it happened in Pittsburgh. That hit was far worse than what Burfict did, but Villanueva would never throw his own . teammate under the bus.
So yes, it’s unfortunate that Burfict is still trying to play the Steelers’ game and coming out the loser. It’s more unfortunate that no side is okay with being the bigger man. The fight that broke out after the game pretty much proved that to be true. The greater disappointment is the Bengals failing to evolve from this perpetual cycle of hatred that they have for their rivals, and that’s why Roethlisberger can say this after he plays in Cincinnati:
“I don’t know what it is about this place,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s awesome.”
Who can blame him? He’s even more successful in Cincinnati than he is in Cleveland.
The common denominator in Roethlisberger’s dominance in Cincinnati happens to be the biggest advocate for Burfict: Marvin Lewis. Like Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Lewis is highly regarded as a player’s coach, and his relationship with Burfict is very personal. As long as both are in Cincinnati, it’s pointless to expect anything different in regard to how they handle this game. Burfict will continue being Burfict, Lewis will continue being Lewis.
As a result, Roethlisberger can say anything he wants. And the Bengals will keep taking Ls.