Vontaze Burfict brushes aside past with Antonio Brown

The NFL can make mortal enemies into friends.

Ex-Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown lived as rivals in the AFC North and experienced some of the most brutal games in today's NFL, often with Brown taking the brunt of a brutal blow from Burfict (sometimes of the dirty variety).

Now the duo will do battle on the same sideline after joining Jon Gruden's Oakland Raiders this offseason.

Burfict signed a one-year contract with the Raiders on Tuesday night and was immediately asked about sharing a field with Brown.

"It's all positive, man," Burfict said, via Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "He's a great player. He's going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. Honestly, I'm just going to approach him like I do all my other teammates, introduce myself, all that good stuff. There's nothing negative over here. We're all on the same team. We're trying to win a championship over here. ... Honestly, we might be the closest friends on the team, you know what I mean? So, just got to go along with it, and I can't wait to meet him."

If you made a video of Burfict's dirtiest hits, the blows to Brown would be some of the worst. You could argue that a high hit from Burfict in the 2015 playoffs might have cost Brown a Lombardi trophy -- after the hit in the AFC Wild Card round the wideout was forced to miss a close Steelers' divisional round loss to the Denver Broncos, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Burfict insisted Tuesday night he's not the dirty player the rest of the world makes him out to be.

"I'm not a dirty player. I play a physical position," he said. "I can't go out there playing patty-cake. ... If I play soft, I'm not doing my job."

The Raiders are taking a flier that the enforcer can regroup after a disappointing season that saw his production take a nosedive and effort wane. Oakland hopes reuniting him with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther aids that cause.

After suggesting he and Brown could be friends despite their lengthy history as enemies, Burfict talked to the wideout to clear the air.

The quick amending of feelings after years of seeming bitterness underscores how fickle even rivalries can be in the NFL. When the goal is a Super Bowl, past differences are set aside.

Now we need this team on HBO's Hard Knocks to see first-hand the kumbaya sessions.

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