The Recurring Problem: Who Vontaze Burfict Is

Givanni Damico | October 1st, 2019
Vontaze Burfict has developed a reputation across the NFL as a head-hunter. He has previously been suspended six games for multiple instances of “unnecessary roughness” or illegal hits to the head. This time, he’s done for the season. We’ll get to this instance a bit later, but before we do, let’s take a look at his past.

To start, let’s discuss Burfict’s upbringing. Before I say this, please note that I am not taking shots at any of his family members or anything personal, I am just stating the facts. His father was a gang member and a convicted cocaine dealer. He spent most of his son’s upbringing behind bars. Burfict and his half brother, DaShan Miller, were raised by his mother. Burfict never had a true father figure in his life.
Let’s start out with a look back to 2012 when Burfict was an Arizona State Sun Devil. He was going into his sophomore year after winning Freshman All-American honors the year before. Dennis Erickson, the Sun Devils’ head coach at the time, benched Burfict. The reason he gave was Burfict’s “unusual number of personal foul penalties.”
After being highly recruited out of high school, Burfict would fail to be drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft after a terribly inconsistent college career. He was said to be a “loose cannon” both on and off the field. He ran an incredibly slow 5.09 40-yard dash. Later on, we found out that Burfict had failed his drug test at the NFL Combine. He admitted to the use of marijuana and this was the final straw for every team.
Despite going undrafted, the Bengals signed him to their active roster shortly after the draft where he would win the backup middle linebacker job. His first “cheap shot” of his career would be in 2013 when he was fined for a hit on a defenseless receiver. He also intentionally struck an opposing offensive lineman in the groin.

His next incident came in 2014 when Burfict was suspended for intentionally “twisting the ankles” of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. Burfict was fined, as well as having received a warning that the league considered him a “repeat offender” and that further instances will result in a visit to the league office. Burfict also caused a concussion to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the same game.


In 2015, Burfict received three fines from the NFL for his hit on Ben Roethlisberger as well as two other fines for unnecessary roughness penalties. He went for Roethlisberger’s ankles on the late hit which raised eyebrows across the league.


Burfict also helped advance the Bengals’ wildcard game curse. The Bengals were leading 16-15 when Burfict recorded an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on a defenseless receiver, Antonio Brown. This came with 18 seconds left. A subsequent penalty from Adam Jones (another head case) for unsportsmanlike conduct let the Steelers advanced the ball 30 yards up the field (total) and kick the game-winning field goal. Burfict pleaded with the head coach at the time, Marvin Lewis, claiming he led with his shoulder.


After their season had concluded, the NFL announced that Burfict would be suspended for the first three games of next season for repeated violations of player safety rules. He played the remainder of the 2016 season without any more incidents. He couldn’t even let the 2017 regular season begin before he was dealt with a five-game suspension (reduced to three) for a blindside block on Chiefs’ fullback Anthony Sherman in the second week of the preseason. As you can see in the video, Sherman wasn’t even involved in the play and this hit by Burfict was clearly out of nothing more than malice.


During their week seven game against the Steelers, Burfict was hit with another fine after kicking Steelers’ fullback Roosevelt Nix in the facemask. Not three weeks later, Burfict was ejected from their week 10 game against the Tennessee Titans after two personal fouls. One of which was a late hit on running back DeMarco Murray and the second was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for bumping an official. I’d like to state my opinion that these plays did not warrant an ejection, but it was still Burfict getting in trouble nonetheless.


Oh, you thought Burfict’s troubles were done, at least for 2017? Nope! Burfict didn’t get in trouble for this play, but he was on the receiving end for once. JuJu Smith-Schuster decked Burfict on a blindside block which resulted in multiple penalties on Smith-Schuster. I’m not much of an “eye for an eye” kind of guy, but I’ve loved JuJu ever since this. He gave Burfict a taste of his own medicine. Burfict would miss the rest of the season in concussion protocol.


Burfict started off 2018 with a suspension. This time, it wasn’t for an illegal hit, rather performance-enhancing drugs. Perhaps he wanted to hit the opposing players harder. Maybe even kill them? That sounds very morbid but I don’t put anything past this head-hunting jerk. In week six of the 2018 season, Burfict was fined for hits on Brown as well as Steelers running back James Conner. Not only did he very obviously hit Brown in the head on purpose, but he also had the nerve to point at Smith-Schuster and say “you’re next.” This guy isn’t playing football. He’s trying to see how many players he can get away with hitting in the head before he’s out of the league for it. Maybe this is how Brown spiraled downhill.

Finally, the Bengals’ coaching staff wised up and cut Burfict off of their roster. He got signed by Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders. Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally reached the present-day times. On Sunday, Vontaze Burfict delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts’ Jack Doyle. As a result, the NFL has suspended Burfict for the remainder of the season. He will also be withheld pay. Doyle said in one way or another that he wasn’t affected by Burfict’s hit and didn’t think it was dirty. While I appreciate the sentiment, Burfict is not a first-time offender. All of these incidents have led up to this and he deserves anything and everything that comes his way, within reason.


Not only did he get suspended for this, but he thought it was funny. He thought nearly maiming a player on purpose with an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit was a laughing matter. We may have warranted this play in the 1970s, but it’s 2019, the game has changed. He knows the rules of the game, and frankly, I think he’s a sick-minded individual, somewhat like a sociopath.

The fact that Jon Gruden rewarded this guy with a captain’s patch after his disgusting history, despite him not even playing for the team before this season is baffling. I am a fan of big hits and physical plays, but clearly, Burfict doesn’t want to play football within the rules and after several chances to change his mindset towards the game, Burfict should never play another snap of NFL football in his life.

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