Vontaze Burfict suspended three games

January 12, 2016

Cincinnati Bengals' linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2016 regular-season due to repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.

Burfict’s most recent violation came with 22 seconds remaining in last Saturday’s playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness for using his shoulder to make forcible contact to Antonio Brown's head and neck area.  Brown was deemed to be a defenseless receiver on the play.

An emotional player, Burfict also had discipline issues during his collegiate career at Arizona State.

Ironically, Burfict moments earlier had appeared to make the play of the game for the Bengals when he intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass late in the fourth quarter.  A subsequent fumble by the Bengals' offense however, put the ball back in the Steelers hands.  Burfict's penalty, coupled with another penalty immediately thereafter by the Bengals' Adam Jones, put the Steelers in position for a game-winning field goal.

The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, who ruled that Burfict’s action placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.  The suspension will take effect at the time of the final roster reduction prior to Week 1 of the 2016 regular-season.

Burfict has previously been fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play in Cincinnati’s Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Burfict is expected to appeal the decision, but he must do so within three business days.

Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the appeals officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

The conduct of other players and coaches in the Steelers-Bengals game is being reviewed for potential discipline.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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