NFL opted not to suspend Burfict to avoid losing the appeal

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So why did the NFL fine Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict $112,000 but not suspend him after multiple infractions last week against the Steelers?

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL was concerned that a suspension would not hold up on appeal to Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the independent hearing officers jointly hired and paid by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

It’s not pride or ego that fueled the reluctance to swing and miss. As the source explained it, a suspension that is overturned on appeal creates the impression in 32 locker rooms that the league office is overreaching.

That’s not the message the league currently wants to send, and for good reason. With plenty of internal and external griping about enhanced sensitivity to roughing the passer, it wouldn’t take much to rile up players who think the league is unfairly punishing defensive players for doing their jobs.

As it stands, Burfict will (pending appeal) forfeit half of his game check for the week, based on a pair of infractions. First, he lowered his helmet to make contact with Steelers running back James Conner on a play that began with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter, and Burfict unnecessarily struck Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the head with a forearm on a play that began with 11:19 left in the third quarter.

The letter to Burfict, which makes no mention of the alleged “you’re next!” threat to Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, makes it clear that “[f]urther offenses will result in a suspension.” That language represents a departure from the standard fine letter, which says that further offenses will result in a fine and/or a suspension.

The revision wasn’t a mistake. The league wants to put Burfict and the Bengals on full and fair notice that, if he commits another violation of the rules regarding player safety, he will be suspended. Again.

Burfict will get his next chance to comply with the rules, or otherwise, on Sunday night, when the 4-2 Bengals visit the 5-1 Chiefs.

35 responses to “NFL opted not to suspend Burfict to avoid losing the appeal

  1. So, for those shrieking that he should be banned from the game, including the writer of this post: by what mechanism are you suggesting that he banned for life, if there’s not even a viable way to get him suspended for a game?

  2. Is Burfict really any worse than the past few decades worth of steeler linebackers? Many say Burfict is just playing in the wrong era, but I get the feeling he simply plays for the wrong team.

  3. With this guys history, he’s just now being put on notice???!!! Really? This situation is a testament to the dumpster fire that is player discipline in the NFL. By taking this stance, the league is admitting that they’ve totally mishandled this guy from the beginning. As a result, they’re unable to control him and at the same time they’re making examples of guys like Chris Jones in order to give the appearance that they’re in control. Jones deserved to get tossed for what he did, but Burfict more than deserved it as well. What a train wreck.

  4. Except no one outside of Cincy would be upset if this malicious trash gets suspended. Pretty sure players around the league would appreciate not getting cheap shotted by him.

  5. Since when has losing an appeal stopped the NFL from doing anything? This smells like they don’t want the news cycle to focus on a player being hammered for being dirty more than anything.

  6. Just follow the NHL model and assign a goon to take him out – hell they could probably pass the hat around the league and collect enough $ to cover whatever fine and suspension ensues. If the league is too gutless to clip this turd then the players need to take care of it. Burfict should be out of the NFL for good

  7. cobaltdriver says:
    October 21, 2018 at 11:21 am
    More like they are afraid of the backlash saying..”racists”
    ————————

    It’s funny how those who aren’t racists, never worry about being called a racist. What does that say about those who dwell on the possibility of being called out as a racist?

  8. Yankees2009: You have a point about former LBs for the Steelers. However, the team makes a concerted effort to keep hits legal. My issue with Burfict has nothing to do with the helmet contact on Conner. He was making a tackle. He needs to avoid that hit based on today’s rules. In the other hand, the elbow into the head of Brown was plain and simple, dirty. The hit on Conners appeared careless not dirty. On top of throwing his forearm into the helmet of Brown, he knocked Brown out of a playoff game because of his forearms into Brown’s head. You can bring if any player in the league made the same hit on a running Brady, Rogers, Ryan or Breese, he would’ve been suspended. Goodell will do everything in his power to protect the leagues golden boys.

  9. yankees2009 says:
    October 21, 2018 at 11:20 am
    Is Burfict really any worse than the past few decades worth of steeler linebackers? Many say Burfict is just playing in the wrong era, but I get the feeling he simply plays for the wrong team.

    *********************************************************************************

    Better analogy between Burfict and any recent Steelers would be Mike Mitchell.

    Both repeatedly engage in cheap behavior and seem to thrive on it, Burfict moreso. Key difference is that Burfict actually has enough talent to stick around and for people to get fanboy defensive about him. Mitchell was never that good of a safety.

    Greg Lloyd, Kevin Green, Levon Kirkland, Gildon, Chad Brown played tough, but weren’t cheapshot artists. It’s not about who the team is — Bengals have also had their share of defensive players that play right. Quit defending guys like Burfict.

  10. stairwayto7 says:
    October 21, 2018 at 11:12 am
    This gut is going to permanently injure or kill someone with his play. The Godell and the NFL will have one hell of a law suit against them

    So, he’s Jack Tatum? From those days of yore when men were men and sheep were nervous?

  11. bonus 9th grade physical science lesson for the NFL legal geniuses: we just had our first cold snap of the year this weekend in the South; the dashboard readout on all 4 of my truck tires dropped from 37-38 psi range to 30-31 psi range. Let the morons appeal that.

  12. I’m just curious to see how fast the pitchforks and torches come out when someone else does something this week. There are much worse hits every week than that arm to the head and the mission that this site has been on since it happened is so ridiculously over the top.

  13. Is Burfict really any worse than the past few decades worth of steeler linebackers? Many say Burfict is just playing in the wrong era, but I get the feeling he simply plays for the wrong team.

    ————————–
    yes he is worse. this argument is getting old and tired. it’s not a matter of physical play, it’s dirty play for no other reason but intending to hurt someone. just look at the last hit on Brown. he was already wrapped up and being tackled, no need to lower the shoulder into his head and follow that with a forearm. that’s not tough, that’s cheap. big difference.

  14. “As the source explained it, a suspension that is overturned on appeal creates the impression in 32 locker rooms that the league office is overreaching”

    That’s because the league often does “overreach” with their punishments and that’s why they get overturned or reduced

    For too late to be worried about “impression”

  15. stairwayto7 says:

    This gut is going to permanently injure or kill someone with his play.
    ==============================================

    New school fan.

  16. yankees2009 says:

    Is Burfict really any worse than the past few decades worth of steeler linebackers? Many say Burfict is just playing in the wrong era, but I get the feeling he simply plays for the wrong team.
    ===========================================

    No, he’s playing in the wrong era. It’s softer now and he offends millennial fans. And I hate the Steelers.

  17. bonus 9th grade physical science lesson for the NFL legal geniuses: we just had our first cold snap of the year this weekend in the South; the dashboard readout on all 4 of my truck tires dropped from 37-38 psi range to 30-31 psi range. Let the morons appeal that.

    3

    Another whiny cry baby Pats fanboy cant get over being caught cheating. Suck it up buttercup you cant change history.

    Burfict staying in the field is not going to end well for a player and the NFL. Hopefully your favorite player isn’t hurt…..

  18. ibillwt says:
    October 21, 2018 at 12:01 pm
    bonus 9th grade physical science lesson for the NFL legal geniuses: we just had our first cold snap of the year this weekend in the South; the dashboard readout on all 4 of my truck tires dropped from 37-38 psi range to 30-31 psi range. Let the morons appeal that.
    —————————-
    Let’s see: from the South, pickup truck, can’t seem to check your tire pressure enough, posting odd trivia in unrelated threads. You obviously know some stuff.

  19. so, makes me wonder, if God forbid Vontaze gets seriously injured will this site champion is return like it does Shazier? Shazier intended to hurt someone with every hit he made he just wasn’t good enough to keep himself from getting hurt.

  20. kcchefs58 says:
    October 21, 2018 at 11:30 am
    But, it’s Burfict of all people. He continues to play football as if it was still the 20th century.

    ————-

    Football was better in the 20th century

  21. All the comments comparing older generations of players are ridiculous. First, it doesn’t excuse anything. Second, the rules were different then. Third, the reason the rules changed was that people got hurt. I hate some of the changes, but they did. You can’t go back and compare, it is a different game. As the rules are now, Burfict is making illegal hits. Worse yet they are dirty with intent to injure. If you can’t recognize that there needs to be consequences, that says something about you.

  22. In other words, they had no valid grounds to suspend him. I imagine they will lose the fine appeal too. Taking away half a man’s paycheck for a rule not put in until 2018 seems a bit raw.

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