Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected from Sunday’s loss to the Titans for making contact with an official and one of his teammates believes that it wasn’t a coincidence that Burfict found himself in that position.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that an unnamed Bengals player believes officials have provoked Burfict at least three times in recent weeks. Those provocations allegedly include officials cursing at Burfict and, per Schefter, multiple instances of officials coming into contact with the Bengals linebacker. This has reportedly left Burfict feeling as if he’s being singled out.
An NFL spokesman said there was nothing unusual about that as players and officials coming into contact inadvertently in the course of games. Coach Marvin Lewis also rejected the idea that officials are provoking incidents with Burfict.
“Officials have a job to do, and I’ve explained this to Vontaze, and he understands that,” Lewis said. “They have a job to do and they are going to separate players, and players are in a situation where they are there. That’s not what this is about, where the NFL should be. So, get back to the huddle and get going, and that’s the most important thing. We don’t need to jaw with anyone after the play, any of the players, so that’s important. It would shock me if those things occur. I know on occasions supposedly they have, but again, that would shock me.”
Burfict is not going to be suspended as a result of pushing an official’s arm away, but a repeat would probably draw a different reaction from a league office that has scrutinized Burfict’s on-field behavior for several years.