Vontaze Burfict has had a long history of questionable at best and dirty at worst plays during his career. The long-time Bengals linebacker joined the Raiders this offseason and many were surprised when Oakland made him one of their team captains, given his history of violent, unnecessary hits.
It took four weeks for Burfict to cross the line during the 2019 season, when he teed off on Jack Doyle with a vicious and nasty helmet-to-helmet hit that earned him a swift ejection from the game.
KICK VONTAZE BURFICT OUT FOREVER!!! pic.twitter.com/91IQghasuf
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) September 29, 2019
It’s the exact type of hit the NFL has been trying to litigate out of the game via the new rules giving referees the opportunity to flag and eject players for blatant use of the crown of the helmet to initiate a hit up high. Those types of hits are dangerous for both the defender and the offensive player, and Burfict’s long history of plays like this led Jon Runyan to suspend Burfict for the remainder of this season without pay.
Vontaze Burfict suspended for remainder of 2019 season for violations of unnecessary roughness rules. pic.twitter.com/oSMl2iSRNW
— Michael Signora (@NFLfootballinfo) September 30, 2019
As Runyan’s official statement notes, Burfict’s previous punishments have warned him of escalating lengths of suspensions and fines he’ll face if he does it again, and that he has “continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.”
At this point, one has to wonder if this season-long suspension will effectively end Burfict’s career in the NFL, as from here on out any repeated violations on the field would yield a similar suspension or worse, and as such carry significant risk for having him as someone you’re using a key roster spot for.