Vontaze Burfict's three-game suspension upheld

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict's suspension appeal has been denied.

Appeals officer Derrick Brooks has upheld Burfict's three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules, NFL Media's Albert Breer reported, via a league spokesman.

Burfict, his agent and coach Marvin Lewis met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent after his appeal was denied on Thursday, according to ESPN's Dan Graziano.

That meeting occurred at Burfict's request, per Graziano, to discuss the linebacker's behavior and how to avoid future NFL punishment.

Burfict's internecine hit on Antonio Brown in the wild-card round of the playoffs had wide-ranging repercussions throughout the postseason. After outgaining the Broncos in total yards, 396-324, Steelers fans were left wondering if they would have emerged victorious in the Divisional Round had Brown not been concussed.

Although the season-altering blow to Brown was the impetus for discipline, Burfict's history as a repeat offender factored into the length of the suspension.

He led the league in unnecessary roughness penalties this season and was flagged for 22 "flagrant" penalties in 37 games at Arizona State, which contributed to his slide through the 2012 NFL Draft. He had previously been fined four times in 2015 alone for safety-related violations.

That includes close to $70,000 for three fines stemming from three different plays during the Bengals' 33-20 loss to the Steelers in mid-December. Including his Week 8 tackle that ended running back Le'Veon Bell's season, Burfict was single-handedly responsible for knocking Pittsburgh's three best players out of games this season.

Going back to 2014, the Pantherscalled for his suspension after he was caught intentionally twisting the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen after the whistle.

Burfict is an impact player and a necessary tone-setter on Cincinnati's hard-hitting defense. If he doesn't clean up his playing style, though, this won't be the last time the Bengals have to do without his services for a stretch of the season.

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