From time to time, the NFL looks the other way regarding suspension-worthy behavior on the football field. This time, the NFL looked the other way on banishment-worthy behavior from Vontaze Burfict.
Burfict’s blatant forearm to the helmet of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown passes the walks/talks/quacks/craps-like-a-duck test, especially in light of Burfict’s history. He wanted to throw a forearm into the helmet of Brown, and Burfict did.
So why wasn’t he suspended? One possibility is that, with everything otherwise going so smoothly this year for the NFL, the league office opted not to undermine the upswing in scoring and ratings (and eventually revenue) by making a strong public statement about Burfict being a bad guy. With the league’s owners gathering on Tuesday for a quarterly meeting, the topic could/would have created plenty of sound bites regarding the unacceptability of the headhunting in which Burfict seemed to be engaged, drawing even more attention to the lingering dark underbelly of the game.
At a time when the league is determined to keep the focus on the game, the question of whether Burfict should be suspended for an extended stretch or kicked out of the league for good would take the focus away from the current Papa John’s-style “better offenses, better game, NFL” obsession.
But it’s becoming harder to ignore the situation, given that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger claims that, after the blow to Brown’s head, Burfict pointed to receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and declared, “You’re next!”
The NFL has yet to respond to an inquiry from PFT as to whether they’ll investigate the situation and punish Burfict. They should. Ultimately, they should kick Burfict out of the league.
He has had ample opportunities to comply with the expectations of those who run the sport. He consistently has failed.
If you’re on the fence about that, take a look at this video posted by Robert Klemko of SI.com. Burfict is a menace to the game, a constant threat to the health and safety of his opponents, and unfit to conform to the conduct the league now mandates.