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Vontaze Burfict dirty play puts 'Bullygate' in its place; Time to suspend Burfict for a long time

Richie Incognito, as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2013, lost a season and a half for saying some mean things. Vontaze Burfict literally knocks players out, and it seems okay.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Richie Incognito is a dirty player. Vontaze Burfict just needs to keep his emotions under control. Are you kidding me? What is wrong with this picture? Incognito, then a Miami Dolphins guard, lost a season-and-a-half for saying dirty things to Jonathan Martin, a man who would joke back in kind with Incognito, never expressed that the things Incognito said bothered him, and Incognito thought was his closest friend on the team. Bring in the firing squad, because Incognito is clearly the worst thing to ever step on a football field.

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Burfict tried to decapitate Antonio Brown during a game, and it is just a 15-yard penalty.


Burfict, who was already having problems controlling his emotions, literally but the health of a player in danger. He launched himself at the head of Brown, on a pass Brown was not going to catch. Years ago, that might have been called a great football play. In today's NFL, where concussions are a huge deal and hitting anyone square in the head is an unnecessary move, Burfict was clearly head-hunting, letting his emptions take control.

But, Incognito said he was going to do dirty things to Martin's sister.

Where is Ted Wells? Where is the outrage from the NFL? Martin left the Dolphins, and immediately the media attacked the Dolphins as an out of control franchise, with a joke of a head coach who cannot control his locker room.

With Burfict out trying to decapitate people on the field of play, there are people defending Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis as not responsible to actually control on-the-field play. What?!?

Burfict needs to be suspended by the league. He should have been benched by the Bengals earlier in the game. He should have immediately been ejected by the referees during the game.

Incognito spent the second half of the 2013 season at home, suspended by the Dolphins, then could not get a team to sign him for the 2014 season, all for saying mean and sexually explicit  things in a football locker room, which is full of mean things and sexually explicit things being said. Incognito has finally returned to the league, this year with the Buffalo Bills, where he demonstrated that he still can play at the level that earned him a Pro Bowl trip in 2012.

The Dolphins now have Ndamukong Suh, an All-Pro talent at defensive tackle, who has the "dirty player" tag much like Incognito. This year, there were multiple instances where people seemed to be looking for ways to get Suh suspended. He was "investigated" for allegedly kicking the helmet off Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris in Week 1, a incident that the NFL reviewed and determined Suh did not kick Morris at all, and no fine or suspension was warranted. Every time Suh touches another player, there are calls for him to be fined or suspended, all because of a reputation - rightfully earned by multiple mis-deeds while with the Detroit Lions - but, ultimately, not found to be dirty.

Meanwhile, Burfict, who was fined $70,000 earlier this year for being involved in extracurricular activity with the Steelers just a month ago, is allowed to play without checks in place. He's allowed to headhunt Antonio Brown because he plays out of control.

It is just emotion that he could not handle.

There is no way Burfict did not know what he was doing when he launched himself head and shoulder first into the head of Brown. He was frustrated. He was angry. And he had the perfect chance to take it out on a Steelers player. He took a cheap, dirty shot, a shot that appeared to concuss Brown, possibly knocking him out, and had the potential to paralyze or even kill the receiver. Brown had no way to protect himself. His body had no way to absorb the force of a shot to the head other than to contort his neck in an unnatural way. Honestly, Brown is lucky he was not injured worse on the play. But, Burfict is not dirty, he's emotional.

Last night, after the play happened, I tweeted:

I planned to leave it there. Yet, every time I see that hit again, every time someone brings it up on a day that should be about Playoff football but has turned into a discussion of Burfict, I once again feel like something needs to be said.

The NFL has to do the right thing here and take Burfict off the field. It needs to be substantial and it needs to be soon. The Bengals are done for the season, so any suspension would not take place until next year. Waiting until next year, or even a month down the road, to make an announcement of a suspension is not good enough. It will be like the league is allowing the fervor surrounding such a blatantly head-hunting player to die down before they quietly fine or suspend him. In a league that investigated the mean words Incognito said in a locker room or on a text message, in a league that investigated the amount of air in a football for months, in a league that looks at everything Suh does when he is on the field, to not throw the book at Burfict will be inexcusable.

The league has to come down hard and fast on Burfict. They must re-inforce that they will not tolerate play like that. They need to suspend him soon, and they need to make it long. They must establish that they really are looking to protect their players, and they can make that statement right here, right now. Suspend Burfict quickly, and suspend him for a long time. Let the NFL Players Association appeal the suspension. Let it be re-considered. All of that is fine.

But suspend Burfict now, and make it substantial. Otherwise, "emotional" play - dirty play - will never be cleaned up, unless, of course, someone actually does wind up with a broken neck from a cheap shot.