Alberto Riveron: Vontaze Burfict hit violated two different rules

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Initial reports suggested that Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s five-game suspension arose solely from an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver who was in the process of running a pass route. As new NFL senior V.P. of officiating Alberto Riveron tells it, another rule comes into play.

Without delving excessively into the details of the Burfict case, which is pending on appeal, Riveron said in a Tuesday morning interview with PFT Live that Burfict also applied an unnecessary hit to Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman after quarterback Alex Smith had thrown the ball elsewhere.

That’s an important point, because hearing officer James Thrash easily could conclude that the hit to Sherman did not land in his head or neck area, making it legal. Making it potentially illegal could be the unnecessary nature of the hit, if Thrash believes that Burfict saw or could have seen that the ball was out. If it was indeed an unnecessary hit, it wouldn’t matter that Burfict didn’t hit Sherman in the head or the neck.

For more from Riveron, check out Wednesday’s PFT Live. Or go ahead at watch the video now.

66 responses to “Alberto Riveron: Vontaze Burfict hit violated two different rules

  1. So basically theyre looking for reasons to justify the commissioner jumping to conclusions… bunch of millionaire pansies these days. Don’t like getting hit? Join me from 9-5

  2. This new rule seems to have a lot of gray areas. In the first five yards receivers will have big advantages with picking, blocking, and remain untouched.

  3. Burfict is a dirty player but that was just a football play. The NFL has created such a quagmire of rules that contradict each other that nobody knows what is legal and not. And in about 10 minutes they’ll make some statement about how they just can’t figure out why fans aren’t as excited about the game as they used to be.

  4. It is also illegal contact. If the ball is in the air and you impede (not a jam within 5 yards), or hit someone like that, it’s illegal contact and a dirty cheapshot. Period.

  5. I don’t like that. When the whistle hasn’t gone yet and the play is still live, I don’t want officials speculating about whether the player “should” have known the ball was thrown to another receiver. Besides, a different receiver being targeted doesn’t rule out the possibility the guy you’re covering could catch a deflection or run downfield to block for the other receiver.

    Maybe the above doesn’t apply to this specific play, but what Riveron’s saying is an iffy concept to be applying generally. IMO, the case should be confined to whether he hit him in the neck/head, end of story. “Play to the whistle” is a very sound concept … let’s not put players in a position where they feel they have to stop playing even before the play has ended.

  6. He’s being suspended 5 games for a hit made in a game that doesn’t matter?! Ok, if I’m a coach then this is an example of yet another reason to not play your starters in the preseason. So let that happen, then fan attendance will be even lower at these games and the NFL can lose a little more out of their pockets, since money is really the only reason why preseason really exists anyway. Suspend him 5 preseason games if that’s what you want to do. I’m not a fan of the bengals or burfict but it’s amazing to me that the NFL can continue to fail in these matters. It’s a hell of a thing to balance when you’re talking about player safety, public relations, and business decisions that affect 32 businesses’ revenue but they’re nowhere closing to figuring it out. I’m shocked there’s talk of giving goodell an extension when he’s captained a ship headed for a crash when the CBA comes up again.

  7. @
    tylawspick6 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    It is also illegal contact. If the ball is in the air and you impede (not a jam within 5 yards), or hit someone like that, it’s illegal contact and a dirty cheapshot. Period.______________________________________________________________

    Wrong.

  8. This was quite literally the way they taught LBs to cover backs up until the last 5 years. If the back was coming over the middle and the ball isn’t in the air, just bury him. It’s how I was taught to cover backs and TEs in HS too

  9. So they can’t find anything wrong until they ultra-slow down the video. And even then he didn’t hit neck, use crown of helmut or come from the side or back. Thus, Plan B, it was unnecessary roughness. Bet, tho, that the refs never even thought that was wrong and refuses to comment on the Smith fake hitch (or why NFL said it was unsure re fine the day before suspension). Now they are just making crap up. Anything, of course, to help the Steelers.

    P.S. Raise your hand if you think Ryan Shazier gets five games for his next unnecessary roughness penalty. Me neither.

  10. And the game takes another step towards softness, skirts and flags.

    You used to be able to make hits. Its football. The spineless worms running the league now are too busy catering to the fantasy geeks to worry about keeping the game anything close to what it should be. The sport is in the final throws of morphing into something not worth watching.

    I used to watch every possible game, all slots during the week where any NFL game was on. Two years ago it shrunk to just watching Pats games and the playoffs. Last year about half the time I went out Sunday afternoons and did errands for at least an hour during the Pats games, and still watched the playoffs. This year I’m sensing the game will lose me and I’ll find better ways to spend my time before the season is out.

  11. mogogo1 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:51 pm
    Burfict is a dirty player but that was just a football play. The NFL has created such a quagmire of rules that contradict each other that nobody knows what is legal and not.
    —————–

    I’d be right there with you if Burfict hadn’t left his feet. The dude just can’t resist putting a little extra spice in the sauce. That was the game in the 70’s and 80’s but those days are gone, unfortunately.

  12. you’ve got to be kidding me – so basically the league has been reading how the majority of sports writers and fans find no fault with the hit so they’re going to throw another out there (that no one has seen) for good measure.

    Did he kick the neighbor’s dog on the way to practice one day too?

    this league is absolutely awful

  13. goddfatherd says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:01 pm
    This was quite literally the way they taught LBs to cover backs up until the last 5 years. If the back was coming over the middle and the ball isn’t in the air, just bury him. It’s how I was taught to cover backs and TEs in HS too
    =========
    The ball was not only already in the air, it was well past Burfict when the hit occurred. Are you now goint to say that Burfict isn’t responsible for having the field awareness to know that?

  14. Then blocks “away from the play” are illegal, too?

    This is nothing more than the NFL trying to get rid of Burfict, but their own inconsistencies keep getting in the way.

  15. P.S. Raise your hand if you think Ryan Shazier gets five games for his next unnecessary roughness penalty. Me neither.

    ———-

    Ryan “Workout Warrior” Shazier needs to be on the field and playing for that to happen.

  16. I love the arm chair QB`s who have never played football calling it dirty. Sure the ball went to another receiver 30 yards away so it looked bad but look at the still photos. You can see the ball a foot out of the QB`s hand and Burficts head is facing the receiver not the QB. If he sees the QB out of the corner of his eye he can`t tell the ball is going to go high to the back receiver and not to the FB. Slow motion replays and views make a lot of plays look bad that in real time and real speed are totally different from the players eye.
    These kinds of suspensions are why i stopped spending a dime on any NFL product 2 years ago.
    I can`t give up games on free TV but i won`t put another dime in Goodell`s pocket.

  17. if the league is so concerned about these hits make the routes illegal- no crossing routes in the box-

  18. If you don’t like the rules stop watching football, it is clearly an illegal hit. Again, if you think football is getting to wimpy, stop watching. The amount of players with brain damage is astronomical. Burfict is either intentionally trying to hurt people or is mentally disabled.

    Shut up or stop watching.

  19. I am always amused by the faux tough guys here who call these men “pansies”. These men sneeze on you little boys and its all over for you. And most are not millionaires.

    The ignorance here among some of you is stunning … but not surprising.

  20. gotitan says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:59 pm
    @
    tylawspick6 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    It is also illegal contact. If the ball is in the air and you impede (not a jam within 5 yards), or hit someone like that, it’s illegal contact and a dirty cheapshot. Period.______________________________________________________________

    Wrong.

    8 8 Rate This

    ——–

    How is it wrong?

    Here is the definition of illegal contact:

    “Making significant contact with a receiver after the receiver has advanced five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The illegal contact is called only if the quarterback is still in pocket and the ball is still in his hands. … 5 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down (safety if the foul occurs in the end zone).”

    Smith was in the pocket and the FB, with the ball in the air when Sherman was illegally hit.

    Yes.

    Right.

    Anyone who says wrong and then runs away, is usually the one who is wrong. Insecure, but very wrong.

  21. hlmatty1 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:03 pm
    So they can’t find anything wrong until they ultra-slow down the video. And even then he didn’t hit neck, use crown of helmut or come from the side or back. Thus, Plan B, it was unnecessary roughness. Bet, tho, that the refs never even thought that was wrong and refuses to comment on the Smith fake hitch (or why NFL said it was unsure re fine the day before suspension). Now they are just making crap up. Anything, of course, to help the Steelers.

    P.S. Raise your hand if you think Ryan Shazier gets five games for his next unnecessary roughness penalty. Me neither.

    12 2 Rate This

    ————–

    Can’t impede a receiver when the ball is in the air. I don’t know why this is so difficult to grasp.

  22. Why are we even arguing whether the hit(s) were legal or not? The rules change faster than the wind blows. The action of a player is dependent on their understanding of that quagmire of changing rules. They have to understand and apply them. We hold officials to that standard. Why not hold the players that have to be officiated to that same understanding and application? Credit to him because he plays hard – after all it is a violent sport where moving bodies collide. But no credit for his understanding the rules. Sometime things happen that should be called but those should be rare if a player understands the rules. Burfict has a history of making that understanding questionable. That I can either blame on coaches for not coaching him up or his own stupidity to know what they are. If he does understand, then he’s a loose cannon and these hits are all up for grabs and review, not for the hit but for malicious intent. Doesn’t seem to be the same issue with the other 99% of players. It’s not an issue of measure after the fact. It’s all about why it happened to begin with.

  23. I’m a die hard Bengals fan, to me Burfict is dirty at times but that hit was legal..Within five yards off the line, the Chiefs RB even said it was legal..No one was hurt, Burfict helped him up…So Shazier’s hit on Gio in the playoff game was legal….gimme a break…Hines Ward made a career out of this that may get him into the Hall of Fame, those blind side cheap shot blocks he would make, then he stand over the player and celebrate..Burfict should not be suspended but since its him, i hope it gets reduced to 1-2 games.

  24. I used to watch every possible game, all slots during the week where any NFL game was on. Two years ago it shrunk to just watching Pats games and the playoffs. Last year about half the time I went out Sunday afternoons and did errands for at least an hour during the Pats games, and still watched the playoffs. This year I’m sensing the game will lose me and I’ll find better ways to spend my time before the season is out.

    8 3 Rate This

    The NFL won’t even know you were gone. Now if we could only get your homer comments off of here all would be good.

    Burfict is a play away from causing a serious enjoy……why wait to see someone paralyzed by the pride on the Bengals.

  25. oruacat2 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    Then blocks “away from the play” are illegal, too?

    This is nothing more than the NFL trying to get rid of Burfict, but their own inconsistencies keep getting in the way.

    2 1 Rate This

    ———–

    “Blocks” or hits by a defender on an offensive receiver?

    Yes, if you hit someone running a pass route when the ball is in the air, it’s illegal contact.

    This is not new.

  26. mogogo1 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:51 pm
    Burfict is a dirty player but that was just a football play. The NFL has created such a quagmire of rules that contradict each other that nobody knows what is legal and not. And in about 10 minutes they’ll make some statement about how they just can’t figure out why fans aren’t as excited about the game as they used to be.

    43 16 Rate This

    ——————

    certainly part of it.

    That and Goodell’s cheating of certain teams and players to get the result he “desires”, whatever that may be.

    Regardless, it’s all about treating the paying customer like an absolute idiot and them thinking it won’t hurt them somehow.

    General Motors once thought that, too.

  27. rich g says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:26 pm
    I’m a die hard Bengals fan, to me Burfict is dirty at times but that hit was legal..Within five yards off the line, the Chiefs RB even said it was legal..No one was hurt, Burfict helped him up…So Shazier’s hit on Gio in the playoff game was legal….gimme a break…Hines Ward made a career out of this that may get him into the Hall of Fame, those blind side cheap shot blocks he would make, then he stand over the player and celebrate..Burfict should not be suspended but since its him, i hope it gets reduced to 1-2 games.

    0 0 Rate This

    ———

    ball was in the air

    not legal

  28. Ryan “Workout Warrior” Shazier needs to be on the field and playing for that to happen.
    ——
    Like Gronk the Bionic Man?

  29. lackofabetter says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:18 pm
    If you don’t like the rules stop watching football, it is clearly an illegal hit. Again, if you think football is getting to wimpy, stop watching. The amount of players with brain damage is astronomical. Burfict is either intentionally trying to hurt people or is mentally disabled.

    Shut up or stop watching.

    —————

    There was not even a flag on the play. Maybe you should pipe down or quit watching.

  30. Yeah, but, his style of play actually helps his team win super bowls. Oh wait. No it doesn’t. Throw him out of the league now. At this point, he’s just making the league look stupid.

  31. Ya. I kinda said this yesterday but was given many thumbs down. Clearly Burfict knows the pass is going deep. He uses the pretense of the 5 yard rule to lay the receiver out. Its illegal as it is a tourist hit. Its not a football play. He just wanted to hurt the guy. Plain and simple!!

  32. I am not a VB fan but he brings up a good point if true – he had one personal foul penalty last year which means it is at least a sign he is trying to change his game for the better. Too much of this game is litigated off the field. It looked like a good hit to me, and it wasn’t called on the field. Let’s let the game be decided on the field.

  33. tylawspick6 is by far running away with the lead in making the most comments!!! Way to go ty! We all wait breathlessly for our next one.

  34. How is it wrong?

    Here is the definition of illegal contact:

    “Making significant contact with a receiver after the receiver has advanced five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The illegal contact is called only if the quarterback is still in pocket and the ball is still in his hands. … 5 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down (safety if the foul occurs in the end zone).”

    Smith was in the pocket and the FB, with the ball in the air when Sherman was illegally hit.

    Yes.

    Right.

    Anyone who says wrong and then runs away, is usually the one who is wrong. Insecure, but very wrong.
    ————————————————

    Except Sherman was less than five yards out.

  35. 24hoursinaday24beersinacase says:
    August 29, 2017 at 1:49 pm
    Burfict should have played in the 70’s, he would have been right at home.

    Yeah, so much better when these guys could be used up, beat to a pulp then tossed away to finish their life limping, arthritic, addicted and brain damaged. Easy to call people pansie from the safety of a keyboard.

  36. lackofabetter says:
    August 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    @nhpats ohhhhh right, because there has to be a flag for it to be illegal or intentional.
    ———————

    Well, there should be, but anything goes with Goodell’s simulacrum of NFL officiating.

  37. Except Sherman was less than five yards out.

    4 1 Rate This

    ——

    except the ball was out so it doesn’t matter

    cannot impede with the ball in the air

    very simple

  38. Vontaze Burfict made a clean and formely legal hit. However, due to recent changes, this type of play is no longer allowed. Sherman was clearly not the intended target and even if had been, it would have been pass interference. The NFL is taken issue because Sherman should not have been tackled. A great comparison is a quarterback’s follow through on running plays. Quarterback’s are taught to pretend like they are throwing the ball after they hand it off. However, the defense does not tackle the quarterback on these plays. They might put a hand on him. This is the exact same thing. The nfl wants to remove unnecessary physicality from the game of football. Think about it this way: Would you want your starting running back to get decked on a leak out when the quarterback takes a shot downfield?

  39. Is it not illegal to hit a receiver with the ball in the air? Am I missing something? I realize a penalty wasn’t called, but penalties are missed every game in the history of football.

  40. This is complete BS, I’m not even a Bengal’s fan. None of Burfict’s hits in that game were illegal. They can try to legislate the danger out of the game but despite their efforts to make the game safe guys are still getting hurt and taking hits to the head every game.

  41. “The NFL won’t even know you were gone. ”

    Wrong as usual. The league obviously noticed that quite a lot of people reduced the number of games they were watching last year and it was of great concern to them.

  42. if you watch the play, when the ball is released sherman is nowhere near the path of it, so unfortunately it looks like burfict hitting someone just to hit someone. which, when you’re burfict, doesn’t fly so good w/ the tower.

  43. Would someone please tell me, outside of Burfict’s helmet turning to follow the ball’s track, how to determine that the ball was thrown and Burfict HAD to have known it? Substitute almost any other player for Burfict and then answer.

  44. To all you geniuses out there, the NFL makes revisions to the rule book every year and lately they have been focusing in on defenseless receivers. That’s what this is about, VB laid out a guy who was just running a route and he took him out on his blind side. You can argue all day long it was dirty or wasn’t dirty but it clearly fits into the NFL’s agenda of protecting defenseless receivers so VB will serve his suspension.

  45. stoneydog1000 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    tylawspick6 is by far running away with the lead in making the most comments!!! Way to go ty! We all wait breathlessly for our next one.

    ————-

    if burfict was on the pats there would be even double the amount of post on why the hit was legal.

  46. What I see in these comments is two things. 1 lot of Bengals fans. To a lot of fans that seemingly want this to be Bloodsport

    Watch the video of his hit on Maxx Williams it is the exact same situation with no excuses.

    The guy has a history of headhunting and won’t stop. And no this isn’t the 70s of NFL football and they aren’t coming back. If you want them back you’re basically saying you willingly want more CTE in the game

  47. tylawspick6 says:
    August 29, 2017 at 3:38 pm
    Except Sherman was less than five yards out.

    4 1 Rate This

    ——

    except the ball was out so it doesn’t matter

    cannot impede with the ball in the air

    very simple
    —————————————————————-

    …and according to your own posting of the rule:
    The illegal contact is called only if the quarterback is still in pocket and the ball is still in his hands.

    So the receiver was less than 5 yards out and you say the ball was out. But the rule states illegal hit is called only when the receiver is more than 5 yards and the ball is in the QB hands. It meets neither of those by your own account.

  48. Illegal contact/pass interference? YES, it should have been called with the ball being in the air but illegal contact/pass interference even when called does not warrant a suspension.

    If the ball had been still in QBs hand nearing release it would have been a completely legal play and not an egregious hit. How does it become egregious and unnecessary when the QB just released the ball? It’s not like he was head hunting away from the play. It was a normal football play that should have been flagged only because it was a split second late. Slow motion makes it look way worse than it was.

  49. Addendum to sf49ers42: the ‘new rule’ (article 7a.2) on ‘defenseless player’ also specifies ONLY if “A receiver running a pass route when the defender approaches from the side or behind” … looks to me like the approach was from the opposing direction, else how could 55 get his elbow into the FB’s chest in advance of the rest of his body impact? Since within 5 yards of line of scrimmage, FB should also still reasonably be expecting contact (particularly with the pump faking going on, which FB is looking at directly) which doubly negates any ‘defenseless’ posture argument …

  50. Let’s face it, this league is all about Fantasy Football now. That is what this current business model caters to. They want to try and keep all key players on the field, except for the suspensions.

    It will most likely be flag football sooner than we think. It blows.

  51. I’ve seen a couple views of the hit. For a player at game speed, Burfict hits the KC player within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage his head is up and to the left and he puts his shoulder into the opposing players chest. Now to have some office stiff wants to say Burfict should have seen this or should have known that, smells a little like profiling. Yeah he has a past of dirty and questionable hits, but this wasn’t one of them.

  52. I’ve watched the video at least a dozen times and a couple things are evident that no one seems to be focusing on…. except maybe Roger
    1- He launches into his hit, leaving the ground just prior to the hit.
    2 – There is helmet to helmet contact, which can be seen by the way the receivers head snaps back.
    Given those two things, I feel the hit should have been flagged!
    Now, do i think this warrants a 6 game suspension? That is something that would then take prior offenses into account, so YES!

  53. At what point does Sherman become a blocker? If Burfict is supposed to know the pass was in the air and not intended for Sherman, wouldn’t the guy looking at the QB waiting for the pass know it wasn’t going for him and get his head around to take on Burfict? You can’t be running a route if the ball is uncatch-able by you.

    And comment above me here, no Burfict didn’t launch into the hit leaving his feet, it was more like a hop, his right foot drags the ground. It was totally in the chest/shoulder area, when you’re hit in the chest what happens to your head when forward momentum is stopped? The only thing they have is a judgement call on if they feel the hit was unnecessary, it seems there is an awful lot a grey area to hand down a suspension.

  54. This type of play happens very frequently, almost once a game. I’m willing to bet money that if a steelers player violates this rule they will not be suspended, or fined.

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