Vontaze Burfict Suspension Sparks Conversation Surrounding a Potential Ban

When Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was ejected from Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts for an illegal hit on tight end Jack Doyle, there were many questions about his future in the league. He has already been suspended for the remainder of the season, but will the NFL take further action and eliminate any possible opportunities for him? Those in charge have met with Burfict multiple times throughout his eight-year career to change his style of play, but the penalties and controversial decisions have continued.

In the eyes of the majority, Sunday's hit on Doyle was only further evidence that Burfict is either refusing to adapt to the focus on player safety, or he is incapable of change. Either way, there has been an outpouring of comments about his play and how the league should come down hard with a very long suspension or, even, a lifetime ban.

To put a finer point on the conversation, Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated released a video on Monday that showed illegal hits from Burfict's career. Instead of game audio, however, the soundtrack was Commissioner Roger Goodell talking about the focus on player safety and the debate surrounding brain injuries.

"We are going to continue to do what we possibly can to help our retired players, the current players, and our future players by making the game safer," Goodell says in the video. "And we will do that with rules, we will do that with improving the equipment, and we will do it by making sure we pioneer research that's going to make sure we understand all there is about brain injuries, brain disease, and make sure that we're being responsible as leaders."

While Goodell discussed player safety and the possible long-term repercussions of these hits to the head, multiple clips played that showed Burfict making illegal hits. Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown took two hits to the head, including one that knocked him out of the 2015 postseason, but he was not the only one.


Burfict was also shown hitting tight ends, quarterbacks, and running backs near their knees and ankles, which could have been career-altering hits. Additionally, the clip showed him hitting Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman when he wasn't looking, a move that warranted a four-game suspension.

There were many other illegal hits put on display during this 77-second clip to make a very strong point. If the NFL is as dedicated to player safety and long-term health, as Goodell said in the audio, they will take further action to discipline Burfict.