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Raiders' Vontaze Burfict notified of second illegal hit

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Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict is back home today while his team plays in London, preparing for his appeals hearing at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. Earlier in the week, the NFL made his path back to the field a bit harder, handing down a season-long suspension.

Sources say the league added another potential hurdle for Burfict because it informed him that it found another helmet-to-helmet hit in last week's game against the Colts. This time, it was a shot on running back Nyheim Hines, prior to his hit on tight end Jack Doyle.

Agent Lamont Smith offered this response, after the league discovered the infraction in a cursory review of the game.

"Hmmmm... I wonder how many other players they've done that for in the last two or three years," Smith, who started representing Burfict this offseason, told NFL.com. Smith's point is that the NFL is treating Burfict differently from other players.

In truth, Burfict is different. NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan wrote to Burfict, "Your extensive history of rules violations is factored into this decision regarding accountability measures." His history makes him so.

In Burfict's appeal hearing, he plans to argue not that it wasn't a helmet-to-helmet hit -- clearly it was. Instead, Burfict will say he was trying to make a football play and was not intending to injure Doyle, and that the lengthy suspension is excessive.

He will point out the largest suspension (five games) had been for Albert Haynesworth in a deliberate act -- stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. Burfict will argue that the league is making an example of him.

"It's different when someone is trying to make a football play, not a deliberate act where someone is trying to hurt an opponent," Smith said. "Haynesworth was trying to hurt someone and he got five games."

Burfict was named a captain in Oakland, and teammates and coaches alike have supported him. Quarterback Derek Carr, for instance, said Burfict is "misunderstood" and heartbroken about the suspension. Unless he wins his appeal and his suspension is reduced, Burfict won't play for the Raiders again in 2019.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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