The NFL opted not to suspend Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for fear of the reaction to having the punishment overturned on appeal. The $112,000 fine imposed on Burfict still provoked a strong reaction from the Bengals.
Per a league source, Bengals owner Mike Brown expressed to the league office in very specific and pointed terms his strenuous objection to the decision to punish Burfict in any way for lowering his helmet to hit Steelers running back James Conner and for putting a forearm in the helmet of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.
Brown called the fine unfair and excessive, and he accused the league of improperly imposing discipline in situations where no fouls were called. (Neither infraction drew a flag.)
The Bengals owner also said that he has a significant disagreement with the league office on making the game safer, and that he believes the league’s current approach hurts the game and makes it less attractive to fans.
It’s an example of the many different and divergent opinions and viewpoints the league constantly finds itself trying to navigate. The Steelers (and others) wanted Burfict to be suspended, and the Bengals don’t even want him to lose a penny for his behavior.
Either way, he’ll lose more than a penny if he does it again. The league has warned him that the new violation will result in a suspension.