NFL: AFC Wild Card-Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) talks with back judge Perry Paganelli (46) during the second quarter in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Home » Blog » Vontaze Burfict: “I Have to Change”

Vontaze Burfict: “I Have to Change”

In his first sit-down interview since Cincinnati’s disastrous meltdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict had some interesting comments regarding his style of play and exactly why he was penalized in the first place.

With the Steelers trailing by two and a beaten up Ben Roethlisberger driving, Burfict laid out a defenseless Antonio Brown with a reckless shot to the helmet.

Brown lost consciousness before he even hit the ground, and the ensuing scuffle resulted in a referee being inadvertently pushed by Burfict’s teammate, Adam Jones. The collective thirty yards in personal foul penalties handed Pittsburgh a chip-shot field goal to send the Bengals packing in impossible fashion.

“Like I told coach, I wish I could take that play back because I probably would’ve hit him low,” Burfict conceded in his interview with ESPN. “I don’t like hitting low, but I have to change because it’s getting flags because I hit him high or hit him in the helmet, and it’s so hard to determine where to hit the offender because they’re [going to] tuck their body, and you have to pretty much tuck with them.”

So far, so good. When the NFL issued, and then upheld, a three-game suspension to Burfict for his actions in this game, it looked like the league was finally standing up for player safety.

No longer would the NFL be made to look foolishly lenient when it came to on-field indiscretions. And although many fans fed up with Vontaze’s borderline-dirty style were clamouring for a harsher sentence, the penalty feels hefty enough to make others think twice about the risk, which is the ultimate goal here.

“I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble,” Burfict continued. “My style of play is aggressive, and [the game has] changed, and I have to change with it, and that play right there, I think if I wasn’t number 55, I wouldn’t have got flagged.”

Hold up. In one fell swoop, Burfict just essentially admitted that officials are targeting him for his play. To imply that he isn’t the one at fault is to completely disregard the moral of the suspension.

Be it through sheer ignorance or stupidity, Burfict’s belief that any other player making that hit would not be fined is embarrassing, especially in an era where referees are taught to err on the side of throwing a flag if a hit even looks illegal.

Hopefully the talented linebacker can correct those faults in his approach to the game – both physically and mentally – because the next time he loses control, he might not have a team to return to.

  • 100%