This past Sunday, the New England Patriots handily dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 35-17, causing the orange and black to fall to 2-4 on the season. From the ugly loss came another couple of questionable incidents from Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, as he plunged himself dangerously at the back of tight end Martellus Bennett’s knees, stomped on the back of running back LeGarrette Blount’s legs after the whistle and got aggressively chippy with star Rob Gronkowski with little to no provocation.
Burfict’s actions have prompted the NFL to review the plays in question to determine whether or not to fine or suspend him — a ritual with which the league office is all too familiar.
To start this season, Burfict was suspended for three games by the NFL for his vicious, head-hunting late hit that concussed Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in one of the AFC round wildcard games, which helped cost his team the victory. This is just one incident in a long history of targeting high-profile players.
Considered to be one of the dirtiest players in the NFL, Burfict is also seen by many as one of the shadiest and sleaziest competitors in the league.
He is a tremendous talent, leading both his team and the league in multiple categories since being drafted in 2012. However, he has been described as out of control and undisciplined, and is a repeat offender of general sportsmanship guidelines.
Burfict’s troubles go further back than just the past few seasons. In 2012, Burfict decided to forgo his senior season at Arizona State University and declared for the NFL draft. However, after a subpar pro day performance, concerns that arose during the interview process and a positive marijuana test, he went undrafted before eventually earning a spot on Cincinnati’s roster.
Along with the pre-draft faux pas, the red flags for Burfict included a surplus of personal foul penalties, leading to suspension, and poor academic performance. Despite being ranked at the top of his recruit class coming out of high school, Burfict faced obstacles even getting on the field at the collegiate level due to his off-field issues.
Burfict certainly represents a problem within not only the NFL, but the Bengals organization too.
Marvin Lewis’ club has unfailingly come up short in the biggest moments year after year. Lewis, in his 14th season as Cincinnati’s head coach, has compiled a 114-98 record in the regular season, but is 0-7 in the postseason.
The Bengals are an immensely gifted bunch, with a number of budding stars. However, the Who Dey crew is wildly undisciplined.
At 2-4, the Bengals are on track for a cataclysmic season if they do not turn things around quickly. Unpredictable, unruly teams almost never recover from a slow start, and if the Bengals continue that trend this year, Marvin Lewis and players like Vontaze Burfict deserve blame and, possibly, the loss of their jobs.