Thoughts on Burfict's Suspension and Bills' Complaints

By Andrew Walbrown
Oct. 02, 2019

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you probably know by now, the NFL has suspended Raiders LB Vontaze Burfict for the rest of the season for his headshot on Colts TE Jack Doyle. Before the punishment was handed down there was a lot of talk on the major networks about what would be appropriate, with a few people pointing out a season long ban as being required. But I'm going to take it one step more here and say he should be banned for life.

The NFL has had a long history of hard hitters, many of whom would have been suspended practically every season if they played in today's game. I'm not here to debate whether or not this is a good or bad thing, it's just a fact. Like it's a fact that Dan Marino and Joe Montana would have thrown for 5000+ yards every season had they played in this decade. But just as the NFL has changed to protect quarterbacks, it has also changed to lower the number of career ending headshots from guys like Vontaze Burfict.

And here's the thing: Burfict knows this. He's been suspended multiple times now for helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless receivers. Every time he suits up you have to wonder if he's going to finish a game because of his penchant to knock a guy's head off. And he hasn't done anything to change his game, which to me means he will never change, and with that he should be banned for life. Not only that, banning someone for life, especially someone who is universally known as a dirty player, would be met with little resistance from the NFLPA. If Ray Rice got blacklisted in his prime for knocking out his now wife in an elevator, then Vontaze Burfict should get the same for knocking out multiple guys.

DO THE BILLS HAVE A POINT?

If you haven't seen yet, many players on the Buffalo Bills were upset after their close loss to the Patriots. A few of the defensive players were upset that Patriots DB Johnathan Jones was not ejected for the helmet-to-helmet hit on QB Josh Allen, which knocked Allen out of the game. They argued that had the same thing happened to Tom Brady, the defender would have been kicked out immediately.

So there's two parts to this. First, I understand why they are upset that Jones wasn't ejected. It was a helmet-to-helmet hit on a QB. But I'm not sure I agree with them. The thing is, Josh Allen is a big dude, who showed no intent to slide, and Jones laid a big hit on him. If Allen is sliding, then sure, but he wasn't. He was trying to break a tackle and get a first down. In my opinion, as someone who hates the Patriots, I don't think he should have been ejected. The Patriots were flagged on the play, but the Bills were too, so the penalties were offset (some sources say there was no penalty, which is false).

Secondly, the Bills defenders are correct: had the same thing happened to Tom Brady they would have been thrown out immediately. If you deny this, then you're a Pats fan, pure and simple. But that isn't just true about Tom Brady, it's true about a bunch of quarterbacks. Here's a quick list of dudes that get that special protection: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Pat Mahomes, (a few more). You will notice one specific thing they all share: they're all elite QBs. Why do they get this protection? Because of money. It's plain and simple. When Brady went down in 2008 the NFL lost a lot of money from viewership because Pats "fans" gave up on the season and Pats haters didn't bother to watch (in hopes of seeing the Pats fail). The same goes from the year Rodgers was gone. Same with Manning's year he missed in Indianapolis.

So yeah, the Bills have a point, there is a double standard in the NFL. But that double standard exists for those who perform at an elite level, and not necessarily for who they are. As soon as Brady no longer becomes marketable (i.e. Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Roethlisberger) they NFL will stop caring. But why would they care if Josh Allen, in Buffalo, doesn't play for a few weeks? The same amount of people will tune into Bills games regardless of who is under center, but you can't say the same if A-Rod goes down for the season.