BURFICT WINS APPEAL; BAN REDUCED TO THREE GAMES
Vontaze Burfict, Marvin Lew
is and the Cincinnati Bengals were vindicated. Sort of. James
Thrash, the NFL and NFL Players Association’s appeals officer for on-field discipline, ruled to reduce Burfict’s five-game suspension to three games Wednesday, the league announced. In the letter notifying Burfict of his suspension, NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote: “This is not your first offense with respect to illegal hits to defenseless players; to the contrary, this incident is consistent with your pattern of egregious safety-related violations including your hit on a defenseless player during the 2015 Wild Card game and your hit against a Baltimore tight end away from the play on January 3, 2016 … When players violate the rules intended to protect player safety on a repeated basis, and particularly when the violations carry with them a significant risk of injury to an opposing player … you must be held accountable for this continuing unacceptable conduct.” The Bengals linebacker was initially disciplined for breaking two rules for a hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sher
man on Aug. 19 — hitting a player in a defenseless posture and unnecessary roughness. The defenseless posture rule specifically protects the head and neck area, and Burfict and the Bengals staunchly maintained that the linebacker hit Sherman in the chest, though Sherman’s head did snap back upon contact. After hearing Burfict’s appeal via conference call Tuesday, Thrash ruled that the five-game penalty was too severe. He won’t be able to play now until Oct. 1 at the Cleveland Browns. It is the third consecutive season in which the Bengals will be without the 2013 Pro Bowler to start the year.
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will be eligible to return Oct. 1.