The NFL brought the hammer down on Oakland Raiders' linebacker Vontaze Burfict, as the league announced that he has been suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2019 season, including all postseason games. The league stated in a release that the Suspension was for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules, including in Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Because the NFL is admitting its harsh punishment is based heavily on Burfict's career history of conduct, rather than his recent hit on the Colts' Jack Doyle, the suspension undoubtedly is a circumstance in which the league's bias towards Burfict as well as Burfict's reputation have combined to create a highly unusual reprimand.
The helmet-to-helmet tackle on Doyle, when viewed in isolation, warranted a standard personal foul penalty, but certainly not a season-long suspension. Such plays occur every Sunday, but undoubtedly, this is a circumstance in which Burfict's reputation preceded him, as no other player would be treated in such a manner.
After the game, Doyle himself stated, "I just got tackled. I’m sure it looked worse than it was. I didn’t really feel anything from it. My helmet protected me."
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan issued the suspension for a violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10, which states that: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
In his letter to Burfict, Runyan wrote:
“There were no mitigating circumstances on this play. Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game.”
“Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.”
“Your extensive history of rules violations is factored into this decision regarding accountability measures.”
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Burfict is expected to appeal the decision, as it seems to apply a subjective standard specifically to him, rather than providing discipline in a standardized and objective manner similar to other players.
Thus far, the Raiders last season in Oakland has been noteworthy to say the least, as the team first dealt with the Antonio Brown circus, and now has lost one of its key defensive players for the season.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com