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Ridin’ Dirty

By Brody Hickle

November 21, 2019

Brody Hickle grew up in Bluffton, Ohio and now studies Sport Management at Bowling Green State University. The third-year undergraduate student minors in General Business. His primary sport interests are hockey and football.

Remember when Ty Cobb used to sharpen his spikes? Remember the Detroit Bad Boys? If you look up the definition of a dirty player in the NFL, you may find a picture of Vontaze Burfict, an NFL linebacker who now plays for the Oakland Raiders. He was suspended early in the 2019 season when the Raiders took on the Indianapolis Colts. His suspension was due to an illegal helmet-to-helmet contact with the Colts’ tight end, Jack Doyle. As he ran to the locker room, he grinned arrogantly to the crowd. Throughout his career, Vontaze Burfict has been fined over 20 times due to illegal hits. His most infamous illegal play came during a playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he connected with Antonio Brown’s helmet, in a game that the Bengals lost. With all this said, many in the media question if Burfict should still be in the NFL.

Along with being fined, Vontaze has faced several suspensions. CBS NFL sports declares him one of the most penalized defenders in NFL history. CBS provided a case where Burfict was still with the Bengals, and they were playing the Kansas City Chiefs during the second week of preseason (Brinson, 2017). Will Brinson tweeted out a video that showed this hit as a typical example of what Burfict has done in the past, and continues to do. If you aren’t familiar with Burfict, here is an example:

With this hit, according to the NFL, you can see that it was clearly a dirty play that warranted a suspension. But, ten years earlier, this hit would have been legal. So, do you think he’s only doing his job, or is he playing dirty?

An earlier article brought up the point that his career was in serious jeopardy, but it was not because of his fines/suspensions (Gaydos, 2015). Although FOX news brought up the illegal hits he made, they also pointed out that he had seven concussions. Plus, he may have had concussions in high school. Perhaps this could be a reason he wants to hurt people on the field. FOX provided the following video in which Vontaze suffered a brutal concussion, and then smacked his trainer who was simply doing his job (Gaydos, 2015).

To return to the most recent case where he hit Doyle, Gutierrez (2019) mentions that Burfict may just be getting singled out in the NFL when it comes to his dirty hits. We all know that there are players out there who want to hit hard. Occasionally, some in the media believe that any athlete once in awhile will lay a dirty hit, but Smith (2019) cites Vontaze Burfict’s agent, who suggests that “the NFL is treating Burfict differently from other players” (para. 2). Gutierrez (2019) also mentions that Derek Carr told the media that Vontaze was heartbroken, because he thought his career was over. Is he being overlooked and singled out? The video below provides evidence that Burfict was clearly targeting Doyle, and he even laughed after getting ejected.

With all this said, many in the media suggest that Burfict is the dirtiest player in the entire NFL. Personally, I agree with the media. I have read about ‘dirty’ linebackers, but I think Vontaze Burfict may be one of the dirtiest ever. Perhaps he does not fear what others think, because he continues to do it. After the perspective that the media provides, it seems that they believe that his career may be coming to an end within these next few years. Will Burfict continue with his ways, or will he prove them wrong?

Brinson W. (2017, August 28). Vontaze Burfict suspension: Here’s the hit and why it is under new NFL rule. CBS SPORTS – NFL. Retrieved from: https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/vontaze-burfict-suspension-heres-the-hit-and-why-its-illegal-under-new-nfl-rule/

Gaydos R. (2015, December 27). Controversial – NFL Linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s career reportedly in jeopardy due to sseventh concussion. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/sports/controversial-nfl-linebackers-career-reportedly-in-jeapardy-due-seventh-concussion

Gutierrez, P. (2019, October 2). Derek Carr: Vontaze Burfict’s ‘heart is broken,’ QB says ban isn’t fair. ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/27750699/derek-carr-vontaze-burfict-heart-broken-suspension

Smith, M.D. (2019, October 6). Agent says NFL singled out Vontaze Burfict for unfair punishment. NBC Sports. Retrieved from https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/agent-says-nfl-singled-out-vontaze-burfict-for-unfair-punishment/ar-AAIm2wV