12-game suspension likely ends Vontaze Burfict’s career

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The NFL got what it wanted. And what it ultimately got was the end, as a practical matter, of linebacker Vontaze Burfict‘s career.

Right or wrong (and most will say “right”), the 12-game suspension for his latest violation of on-field safety rules will make most if not all teams shy away from Burfict in 2020. The reasoning is simple: With another illegal hit of any kind, Burfict once again will be banned for the balance of the season in which it happens.

And it’s very easy to deliver an illegal hit, even without any malicious intent. Whether it’s a blow to the head or neck of a defenseless player, roughing the passer, or lowering the helmet to initiate contact with an opponent, illegal hits happen all the time. Who would entrust months of preparation and a 53-man roster spot to a guy who is one mistake away from being gone for the season?

It’s nevertheless amazing that hearing officer Derrick Brooks upheld the 12-game banishment. The league’s disciplinary process for on-field violations is supposed to be progressive, and gradual. Burfict had never been suspended more than three games at one time for illegal hits. To rocket from three to 12 is unprecedented; indeed, the longest suspension any player has previously served (five games) arose from a post-whistle criminal assault in the form of a cleat to the forehead.

But Brooks, an “independent” hearing officer, nevertheless affirmed the suspension. As mentioned in connection with the Antonio Brown helmet grievance, the fact that an independent decision-maker must periodically be reappointed by both the league and the union requires the decision-maker to be sensitive to the reality that, in some situations, one side will desire a specific outcome much more strongly than the other. In this case, the NFL didn’t impose 12 games to send a message, as a source with knowledge of the situation previously explained it to PFT; the league badly wanted him off the field for the rest of the year. The NFL Players Association quite likely didn’t have the same zeal to reduce the suspension, especially since Burfict’s unsafe tactics undermine the health and safety of other union members.

While it can’t be ruled out that a team like the Raiders would bring Burfict back next year as an act of defiance, it would be stupid to do so. Chances are that Burfict will apply another illegal hit. Chances are that, when he does, he’ll be gone for the rest of the year all over again.

64 responses to “12-game suspension likely ends Vontaze Burfict’s career

  1. “The NFL Players Association quite likely didn’t have the same zeal to reduce the suspension, especially since Burfict’s unsafe tactics undermine the health and safety of other union members.”

    …and there it is…I can only imagine how many player reps were in touch with DeMaurice Smith about the mood of their respective locker rooms over this issue. An illegal hit or blow to the head can be unintended/unintentional.

    Look at the hit on Mason Rudolph, it just worked out that way. Players get that and understand – little commentary or outrage leveled against Earl Holmes for how that played out. Compare that to the hit that got Burfict suspended, his hit on Antonio Brown a couple of years ago and a variety of other incidents…those were not unintentional and I suspect many players spoke up within the NFLPA about that…

  2. It’s nevertheless amazing that hearing officer Derrick Brooks upheld the 12-game banishment. The league’s disciplinary process for on-field violations is supposed to be progressive, and gradual. Burfict had never been suspended more than three games at one time for illegal hits.

    ————————————————————–

    It’s really not that amazing after 10 fines and 3 suspensions lol

  3. I actually didn’t think this hit was all that bad. Should have been flagged of course but wouldn’t call any other player dirty for it. The NFL was looking to get him out of the league.

  4. 12-game suspension likely ends Vontaze Burfict’s career
    _________________________________________

    Three words “LONG OVER DUE”!

  5. The NFLPA didn’t have any zeal for Burfict because it was really about the Raiders. As long as Son of Al is there, the stiffing of the team by the NFLPA and the NFL will continue because they hated his father.

    Gruden had to know this before going back there. Guess he doesn’t care.

  6. Mike, in the story you make this statement:”To rocket from three to 12 is unprecedented;…”

    What is the precedent for suspensions for repeated offenses (illegal hits or otherwise)? Is there one? Not trying to be snarky, I’m really curious.

  7. I mean it’s not totally stupid for a LB needy team to bring him in on a minimum deal, although I understand why it most owners wouldn’t do it. Especially if you plan on him being in a rotation and not featured in case he relapses…

  8. Vontaze: *blew kisses to Colts fans at the stadium on the way out*

    Colts fans: “Congrats – your tarnished career ended here. Have a nice life.”

  9. Burfict did it to himself. He was suspended numerous times, fined numerous times, and was warned numerous times. Burfict running off laughing after being kicked out did himself no favor.

  10. Why the rest of the season? Because he’s a Raider. You can’t stop the Silver and Black, Roger. Go get a life.

  11. Its the same for any employee who does not adjusting to the changing in a company’s culture. You either adapt or you wont be there much longer.

  12. Dustin Adams says:
    October 10, 2019 at 1:36 pm
    Why the rest of the season? Because he’s a Raider. You can’t stop the Silver and Black, Roger. Go get a life.

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

    No, it’s because Burfict’s done it too many times over his career and has been allowed to get away with it because the punishments have been too lenient.

    Also, the Silver and Black doesn’t need Roger to stop them. The Silver and Black stops itself just fine.

  13. Dustin Adams says:
    October 10, 2019 at 1:36 pm
    Why the rest of the season? Because he’s a Raider. You can’t stop the Silver and Black, Roger. Go get a life.

    0 3 Rate This

    ___________

    Raiders fans. Keeping it classy

  14. It’s funny that so many people are happy to see him suspended for the season, but these are the same guys who revere dirty players like Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus, and all the “real men” of the 50s and 60s.

  15. It’s unfortunate for him that his career is probably over but if he wants to know why just look in the mirror. He decided he’d rather be a dirty football player than an employed football player. They kept sending the message. Unfortunately for him, he never listened. The hit, while not all that terrible, was just another in a long line of dangerous plays and at some point it’s either going to end in him ending someone’s career. This suspension made sure that the career ended was the right one. This guy has been a putz since college. It’s amazing he lasted this long in the NFL. Now we can look forward to constantly hearing about him being in legal trouble until he’s put away for good.

  16. “The NFL Players Association quite likely didn’t have the same zeal to reduce the suspension, especially since Burfict’s unsafe tactics undermine the health and safety of other union members.”
    —————————–

    NONSENSE. The union’s job is to protect ALL it’s members from getting railroaded by management and ensuring the penalty is FAIR. What’s to stop the league from banning the next player 12 games on a whim?

    If an union doesn’t fight hard in every case, then it will lose all TRUST from every member.

  17. Wow. The brain trust in Oakland thought it would be a good idea to bring Vontaze Burfict, Antonio Brown and Richie Incognito on board, all at the same time.
    Two of them are already gone forever.

  18. Good. I’m not normally happy to see people’s careers end or people be fired….but in Burfict’s case, I hope we ends up working at a car wash in 5 years.

    This dude actually goes out of his way to knock other people out of the game, and his only way of doing that is head hunting. Hope to never hear his name again.

  19. The NFL has become so soft… Go back and watch films on the all time greats like LT, Jack Lambert or basically any really physical player back in the day and they’d all be banned for life.

  20. THIS IS STUPID! Somewhere Jack Lambert is shaking his head in disgust

    ——————
    How many of the players from that Steelers era are dead from suicide or brain related injuries?

    Doesn’t seem that stupid if you ask me.

  21. “To rocket from three to 12 is unprecedented”
    _________

    So, the take here is that they’d have to of suspended him 6 games this time, then 9, 12, etc.? What if one of his habitual illegal hits crippled a player over that span? It’s insane to suggest it should be impossible to escalate punishment for a repeat offender especially when it comes to a clear safety issue.

  22. The board that suspended him is made up of ex NFL players that played in the previous generation where defenders were celebrated for knocking heads off. They know the difference between head hunting like Burfict and unintentional contact, I don’t see them suspending him for a year again for unavoidable contact. Burfict needs to apologize, admit that he has been a dirty player, vow to change and maybe some team will take a flier on him.

  23. What I’ll remember most about his career is when the Bengals had a playoff game almost in the bag and then Burfict’s dirty hit followed by a Pacman Jones tantrum moved the Steelers from the 47 to the 17 with 18 seconds left and no timeouts for the game winning field goal.

  24. I didn’t think about this as one of the unintended (or maybe the NFL intended it) consequence to upholding this suspension. Any hit by him in the future will have to trigger a ban for a season and maybe even indefinite. The NFL completely butchered their own process, procedures, and precedent. Derrick Brooks and the NFL should be ashamed of themselves. He should have gotten 6-8 games max. It’s incremental punishment in the NFL, and all of the sudden they deviant? They’re singling him out. I don’t think he’d be successful since the courts have backed the NFL CBA but maybe he should even file a grievance or lawsuit.

  25. Where is the help from the union, ridiculous. The union players should all walk on game day. This is getting crazy, you belong to a union, pay high dues, but no support. Who is really running the union, the NFL? You know it.

  26. Burfict was a victim of the Steelers’ organization and fan base endlessly whining because he was a huge thorn in their side. Steelers went so far as to throw their coaches out of the field to pick fights so Burfict would get thrown out. Looney pulled some strings on that one and succeeded. The ironic part is that the Steelers imploded on their own.

  27. Burfict was a victim of the Steelers’ organization and fan base endlessly whining because he was a huge thorn in their side. Steelers went so far as to throw their coaches out of the field to pick fights so Burfict would get thrown out. Looney pulled some strings on that one and succeeded. The ironic part is that the Steelers imploded on their own.

    #RevisionistHistory

  28. The majority of those that want him gone, are also moving the league into the direction of playing two hand touch, and no helmets.

    I am just waiting for NASCAR to end all car crashes as well.

  29. Why is NO ONE talking about Oakland #29 Lamarcus Joyner hitting Jack Doyle IN THE SAME WAY ON THE SAME PLAY that deservedly got Vontaze Burfict suspended for the year? In fact, the Joyner hit is in a way even more egregious than Burfict’s because Doyle was even MORE defenseless after Burfict’s hit. Lowered his head and used the crown of his helmet JUST LIKE BURFICT! Don’t know his history so not saying that Joyner deserves the same punishment, but there’s not one word about HIS hit on Doyle. Why? Talk about a bang-bang play!

  30. When Brady first started playing in the league Burfict would just be another head-knocking linebacker that may catch a flag but never a suspension. Some guys adapt and last. Burfict, not so much. Too bad for him.

  31. The NFLPA represents all the players, and they wouldn’t look too smart if they helped put a player in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. Why would they support someone who is trying to injury the players they represent?

  32. Dustin Adams says:
    October 10, 2019 at 1:36 pm
    Why the rest of the season? Because he’s a Raider. You can’t stop the Silver and Black, Roger. Go get a life.

    Typical Raiders fan comment. Stop being an idiot. Everything your team does is not right and if he were on another team you would agree with his suspension. If is a shame how things are fine as long as the guy helps your team win.

  33. raiderspy1 says:
    October 10, 2019 at 3:47 pm
    Where is the help from the union, ridiculous. The union players should all walk on game day. This is getting crazy, you belong to a union, pay high dues, but no support. Who is really running the union, the NFL? You know it.

    The union is there to protect and serve ALL of its members as a whole. It this case their true job would be to protect the other 1800 players in the union instead of one player who is endangering the others. They have supported him over and over and sooner or later if he can’t learn then he needs to go. You are just another Raiders fan acting like a Raiders fan.

  34. While this may be the media’s wish – you generally don’t go from a starter, leader on a Defense to out of the league. I’m sure someone will offer as low-risk prove it deal next year.

    There are too many soft teams out there looking for an edge.

  35. nyyankeehatespoliticos says:
    October 10, 2019 at 1:31 pm
    Burfict did it to himself. He was suspended numerous times, fined numerous times, and was warned numerous times. Burfict running off laughing after being kicked out did himself no favor.
    ___________————————————————————————–

    Actually the Cincinnati Bengals empowered him through his whole time there. He had red flags in college and was a supplemental draft pick by Cincinnati.

    They refused to do any team punishments, even though his actions had hurt players. Instead waiting to see if the league would do anything.

    And the whole time that RAT Marvin Lewis defended him and resigned him. The League is better now with both gone.

  36. As much as I dislike Mr. Burfict’s actions, I cannot help but feel the the League failed him, his team failed him and his beloved Players Union failed him.

    Hear me out. The fact that Mr. burfict was empowered by his teams desire to see his fierce style and “hard nosed” football plays. Both Cincinnati had opportunities teach and help him adjust to the new rules. The truth is they wanted him to “play tough” and “explode the play” “wear down the QB” and all the other phrases we hear during a big hits in a game. They knew what the were getting and he knew what they wanted.

    Lessening the suspensions only sent a mixed message to the team and player. Showing that the were only concerned with public opinion and not player safety. The players Union should be ashamed that it had to come to this.

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