Raiders' Vontaze Burfict suspended for rest of season

Print

Vontaze Burfict's latest on-field incident will cost him the rest of the season.

The Oakland Raiders linebacker has been suspended for the rest of the season following his helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, the league announced Monday.

Burfict was ejected from the Raiders' 31-24 win over the Colts for lowering the helmet to make contact on the hit early in the second quarter.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Burfict will appeal his suspension. Burfict is also heading back to the United States for his appeal after previously traveling with the Raiders for their Week 5 game in London.

The discipline marks the longest punishment ever handed down for an on-field act in NFL history. Given Burfict's reputation as a repeat violator of player safety rules, a lengthy ban shouldn't come as a surprise.

NFL VP of football operations Jon Runyan said in a league release that Burfict was suspended for lowering his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent, and for repeat violations of unnecessary roughness rules.

"There were no mitigating circumstances on this play," Runyan said in his letter to Burfict. "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."

Burfict's appeal would be heard by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, who have been jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

Colts coach Frank Reich told reporters Monday he was pleased to see Burfict's punishment.

"Just thankful league took action it did," Reich said, per ESPN.com. "When someone does something like that, attacks one of your players, it's not supposed to be in the game. Glad they did what they did. Actions feel very appropriate."

The suspension is Burfict's fourth during his NFL career, and the third time he's been hit with a ban for on-field incidents. In 2016, Burfict was suspended three games for multiple violations of player safety rules. In 2017, the linebacker was suspended five games for a hit to a defenseless player, which was reduced to three games upon appeal. In 2018, Burfict missed four games for a violation of the NFL's PED policy. The linebacker has also been slapped with multiple fines for illegal hits throughout his career.

Long viewed as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL during his seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Burfict often toed the line between tough and out-of-line. The Raiders signed the 29-year-old this offseason to add toughness to Paul Guenther's defense -- Burfict played under the DC for several years in Cincy. Burfict received rave reviews from the coaching staff and was eventually made a team captain.

Less than a month into the season, Burfict's play once again crossed the line and earned him a lengthy ban this time around.

Print