Professional football is a brutal sport, and that’s not exactly breaking news. What it doesn’t have to be, though, is willfully negligent, but that’s exactly what happens at times. The world again saw exactly what that looks like in Week 4, when two plays, in particular, sparked outrage among football fans across the NFL, but two that will likely have very different outcomes this week.
When the New England Patriots took on the Buffalo Bills, as usual, there was no love lost. As is usually the case, tempers flared both in the stands and on the field, but the helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Josh Allen by cornerback Jonathan Jones sent Bills fans into a feeding frenzy. Allen dropped like a rag doll and seemingly lost consciousness for a brief moment before coming to and being helped to the sideline — ruled out with an obvious concussion.
Halfway across the country, linebacker Vontaze Burfict saw fit to spear tight end Jack Doyle in the head despite Doyle having been down on one knee following a catch, wherein all Burfict had to do was touch him down. Instead, the player currently known as the dirtiest in the league was right on brand with the visceral hit to Doyle, leading many to call for his banishment from the NFL.
It’s not his first time doing such a thing, after all.
Both Jones and Burfict were flagged for penalties, but it’s Burfict who’s feeling the wrath of the league and commissioner Roger Goodell; having now been suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season without pay.
And that's way past due. »
DETAILS ⬇️ https://t.co/LaEYmary3R
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) September 30, 2019
Burfict is no stranger to being fined and suspended for his actions on the field.
Aside from his four-game suspension for violation of the league’s PED policy in 2018, he was suspended four games in 2017 for an illegal hit on fullback Anthony Sherman and four games the year prior for an illegal hit on wide receiver Antonio Brown. His hit on Doyle makes for the third illegal hit in three seasons, and set him up for another multi-game suspension. Clearly, sitting him for four games in the last two instances didn’t curb his egregious behavior. With the league looking to send a strong reminder regarding player safety, they finally saw fit to drop the hammer on Burfict.
It’s to-be-determined what occurs with Jones for his illegal hit against Allen, but lack of a history as a dirty player will likely see him only fined and not suspended — much to the chagrin of Bills safety Micah Hyde.
For Burfict, this latest punishment is a clear warning that one more illegal hit could see him banished from the league.