Vontaze Burfict Suspension


Sean Baker

Shortly after the Oakland Raiders game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday September 29, the NFL announced Raiders linebacker (LB) Vontaze Burfict will miss the remainder of the 2019-2020 season with a suspension. Vice President for football operations, Jon Runyan says, “The hit was unnecessary, flagrant.” Jon Gruden, head coach of the Raiders, says “We originally hoped to have him back before the end of the season.” Not only is this huge because he is a key player for the Raiders, but this means he will miss his first season with the team. Burfict was signed by the Raiders this off-season after spending his first seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. The reasoning behind the suspension was based off Burfict’s helmet to helmet hit on Colts tight end (TE) Jack Doyle. 

The NFL has been trying to eliminate injuries, especially those involving the head more and more in recent years. Most of these helmet to helmet hits like Burfict’s on Doyle result in a fine or a suspension of just a few games. Some were shocked with the harsh suspension but others who know Burfict’s past can understand the NFL’s decision. 

Throughout Burfict’s career he has lost more than five million dollars from fines and suspensions. In his seven-plus  year career he has been suspended or fined 12 times. His first fine dates all the way back to Burfict’s second season in the league. On September 22, 2013 Burfict received two fines equaling to 31,000 dollars, one for hitting Packers tight end Ryan Taylor in the groin and the other for hitting wide receiver James Jones who was a defenseless receiver. Less than one month later on October 13 Burfict was fined 7,875 dollars for tackling Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson by his facemask. No later than two weeks after this Burfict was fined 21,000 dollars for lowering his head and hitting Jets wide receiver, Stephen Hill with the front of his helmet. Fines and suspensions like these became the norm for Burfict.

One of if not Burfict’s most infamous illegal hits resulting in a suspension or fine was in a primetime playoff game in January 2016 against division rival the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a back and forth game with each team taking turns with the lead. After a crazy turn of events the Steelers had the ball on the 47 yard line down by one with 22 seconds left in the game. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass over the middle to wide receiver Antonio Brown. After the ball was thrown incomplete, Burfict laid a hit to Brown’s head knocking him to the ground. The hit was called a personal foul which placed Pittsburgh in field goal range. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell makes the 35 yard field goal to win the game 18-16.

Burfict also has been fined or suspended for actions not involving harming another players. On November 20, 2016 he was fined 12,154 dollars for flipping off a fan in the stands who was yelling at Burfict and his teammates. One of his most recent suspensions was April 12, 2018. The NFL suspend Burfict for a total of four regular season games for violating the league’s PED (performance enhanced drugs) policy.