Does Vontaze Burfict deserve a suspension?

Hudson Yu '22

On Sunday, October 6, Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected from the Raiders-Colts game due to his helmet to helmet hit with Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. His latest on-field incident will suspend him for the rest of the reason.


Hard hits are very common in football but most go unnoticed. However those in the head region bring lots of attention due to their potential harm to the players. In order to protect players, the NFL strengthened rules to avoid unnecessary hits on players. The NFL rulebook states that, “lowering the head and violently or unnecessarily making forcible contact with the ‘hairline’ of forehead part of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body [is not permitted].” The hit made by Burfict clearly violates this rule, his hit was unnecessary because Jack Doyle was already “down” and was incapable of gaining yardage. Striking him in the helmet only increases his chances of injury as well as Doyle’s. 


In a letter written by NFL VP of Football Operations Jon Runyan, Runyan states to Burfict, “Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game”. This justifies Burfict hit Doyle with meaning and purpose and the hit could have been mitigated. 


Runyan continues, “Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk.” Elaborating on the concept of repeat offenses, Runyan shows that Burfict is a danger if he continues playing, therefore it is for the safety of others that he must be suspended.”


Vontaze Burfict has been known for scoring hard and dirty hits.  This would be his fourth suspension in his NFL career and his third ban for an on-field act. In his seven-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals, he had two separate three-game suspensions in the aftermath of hits to former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman. 


The choice of suspending Burfict for the season is the correct choice.  According to NFL Player and Safety, in 2018, there have been 214 diagnosed concussions, 57 ACL tears and 131 MCL tears in the league. By suspending Burfict for the rest of the season, the NFL makes a statement that all acts of unnecessary roughness will be taken seriously, and punishments will be harsher. Unnecessary hits often are disregarded and looked past because many think football is a violent sport and hits are part of it. However, I believe that the NFL must enforce even stricter rules to limit the amount of extra injuries.


Many star players have walked away from the stage of the NFL because of the danger of extra injuries. The New England Patriots All Pro Tightend, Rob Gronkowski and Indianapolis Colt’s Probowl Quarterback Andrew Luck left the NFL due to their fear of this. The NFL must enforce stricter penalties for those who fail to follow the rules of unnecessary contact , this is the only way to reduce the rate of unneeded injury in the NFL. This will lead to players feeling safe while playing and more players staying in the NFL.