Vontaze Burfict, Raiders

Burfict Receives Fair Suspension for Indiscretions vs. Steelers

For the first time in his muddied, polarising career, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is set to receive some comeuppance for his dirty on-field play. According to NFL insider Adam Schefter, Burfict will be suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season as punishment for his actions against the Steelers on Saturday night.

It is not yet known whether the suspension is entirely a result of his helmet-to-helmet hit against a defenseless Antonio Brown, or a result of other general tomfoolery he was involved in throughout the game, including a spitting allegation raised by Pittsburgh O-lineman David DeCastro.

Regardless, the suspension is a fair one considering that the NFL never suspends on-field offenders for as long as fans and players think it should. These kinds of multi-game penalties are usually reserved for players that consume performance enhancing drugs, assault their spouses or, goodness forbid, turn a blind eye to deflated footballs.

Burfict’s actions have continued to be an area of concern, largely because the league has chosen not to wield its power accordingly. One would hope that three games is enough to convince Burfict that the NFL is onto his shenanigans, and that it will tolerate them no longer.

Many sceptics are already raising the possibility of his suspension being reduced as per the NFLPA’s “mandatory appeal” rule. Should the punishment be reduced to two or fewer games, then things might start to look a little lenient.

On the other hand, here is a great opportunity for the league – much vilified in its recent half-hearted attempts to prove player safety is its top priority – to stand strong and declare “no, we said three games so that’s what you’re getting. We dare you to try it again.”

Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Maybe the NFL imposed this punishment with the expectation that it would be lessened on appeal. At any rate, the suspension is a start.

The call is now in the league’s hands: will Roger Goodell and company use this as a springboard towards slowly eradicating this type of play from the game, or will his leniency again be the laughing stock of the league?

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