Well, it’s safe to say that Vontaze Burfict doesn’t have many supporters in the NFL.
Not long after numerous football figures such as the Indianapolis Colts’ Frank Reich and former NFL players Marcus Spears and Ross Tucker agreed with Burfict’s season-long suspension, there’s another key football figure who is jumping in the fray.
Le’Veon Bell, one of the league’s top running backs and somebody who played against Burfict as a divisional rival for five seasons, blasted the Oakland Raiders linebacker while saying that Burfict finds a way to “cross” the line every game.
Via Josh Schrock of NBC Sports:
“There’s certain fine lines you really can’t cross and I feel like he kind of finds it every game,” Bell said, via ProFootballTalk. “It’s like unbelievable. The league did what it did. I’m glad they’re finally trying to bite down on things like that because we don’t want dirty players in the league. Obviously, you don’t want guys to not be able to provide for their family. It’s not like I don’t want him on the field, but I just want him to play clean. If he’s not playing clean then other guys can’t really provide for their families because they’re hurt.”
Le’Veon Bell Remembers Dirty Hit From 2015
Bell, who now plays for the New York Jets, also took a jab at Burfict for a dirty hit he delivered to the veteran running back back in 2015. Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers due to Burfict — then with the Cincinnati Bengals — while tackling him from behind on the sidelines.
“I’ve played Vontaze Burfict numerous times and there’s been a lot of plays that people don’t see where it’s been dirty,” Bell said. “He had a bunch of dirty things on me, but in 2015, the one that kind of hurt me on the sideline, he didn’t have to do that.”
Bell suffered a torn MCL as a result of the play. The veteran running back continued to voice his frustration with Burfict’s dirty style of play, saying that players shouldn’t try to intentionally hurt other players the way Burfict does.
“But it shouldn’t be like a guy trying to pull you down and wrap their legs around you and pull you back to really fold your leg up. It shouldn’t be like that.”
Derek Carr Defends Vontaze Burfict
While everyone has seemingly piled on Burfict for his latest misdeed — a helmet-to-helmet hit on the Indianapolis Colts‘ Jack Doyle — there has been one prominent figure who has stepped up to Burfict’s aid.
That would be none other than franchise quarterback Derek Carr. The veteran quarterback stressed earlier in the week that Burfict is misunderstood, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.
“If the people making the decision really knew the guy that we know, inside our building,” Carr said. “He’s a great person, his heart is broken because he’s not playing football. The guy just wants to play football. We don’t get a lot of time to play this game in our lives.”
It’s clear that the NFL made this decision not based solely on Burfict’s helmet-to-helmet hit of Doyle, but all of his past transgressions over the course of his eight-year career. He had been suspended for 10 games prior to this incident due to dirty hits and performance-enhancing drugs.
Burfict will appeal the suspension on Tuesday. If he’s unsuccessful, he’ll be out for the remainder of the season — including the playoffs.