Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict has a lot of the qualities coaches look for in a player. He is a tremendous athlete that knows how to play the game and has a tireless engine that never quits. Oh—and his intensity. Few compare, but that is also his problem.
Intensity is celebrated in an NFL player but not if he can’t control it—which Burfict has struggled to do throughout his career.
It got him into trouble again recently when he made an illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle.
That hit led to an unprecedented 12-game suspension for Burfict, the longest to date for an on-field incident. But the NFL felt it was warranted since Burfict has such a long history of dangerous play. As could be expected, he appealed.
Former linebacker Derrick Brooks, who was appointed by the league and the NFLPA to be the appeals officer, has heard Burfict’s appeal. He has already handed down his ruling—suspension upheld.
Jon Gruden and Derek Carr tried to speak on his behalf, but Burfict’s history was too much to ignore.
This was his first season with the Raiders; he had spent the last seven seasons in Cincinnati (2012-18). During his time with the Bengals, he was suspended or fined 13 times totaling 10 games lost and $4.12 million in fines and forfeited salary.
Burfict is only 29, but he was only under contract for the 2019 season with the Raiders. So, when the season and his suspension are up, he is going to be a free agent. It is fair to wonder if anyone is going to take a chance on signing him.
The Raiders have gushed about Burfict describing a guy that has made such an impact during his short time with the team he was voted captain. Many teams would probably love to have that guy on their side. But will that be who they get, or will it be the guy that is a play away from another suspension?
Will anyone want to sign a player knowing full well he could make another illegal hit at any moment and be suspended again?
We’ll have to wait until free agency starts next year to find out what the future holds for Vontaze Burfict.