Vontaze Burfict's vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless Antonio Brown didn't just cost the Cincinnati Bengals their playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wild Card round. It will cost him a couple of paychecks next season as well.
Burfict will be suspended for three games at the start of the 2016 campaign for his decision to level Brown at the end of playoff tilt, the NFL announced on Monday. Though players are usually just fined for helmet-to-helmet hits, Burfict is a repeat offender and thus subject to a multiple game ban.
The league said Burfict is suspended for "repeated violations of player safety rules." Burfict's hit on Brown "placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided." Burfict appealed the suspension, but it was upheld a month later. He then met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his play on the field:
Source: Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict’s 3-game suspension upheld by appeals officer Derrick Brooks.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 11, 2016
Burfict met Thursday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, at Burfict's request, to discuss his behavior and what to do going forward.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 11, 2016
This isn't the first time Burfict has faced discipline this season for unruly hits against the Steelers. On Dec. 18, the NFL docked Burfict $69,454 for a controversial low hit on Ben Roethlisberger and two unnecessary roughness fines.
In Week 17, Burfict was also fined $50,000 for leading with the crown of his helmet against Baltimore Ravens tight end Maxx Williams. The Williams hit was away from the play and was not flagged.
leads the league with 14 unnecessary roughness penalties since 2012 and has been fined for incidents in each of the last three seasons. In 2014, Burfict was hit with a $25,000 penalty for twisting the ankles of players on the Carolina Panthers. The year before that, he was fined a total of $52,000 for multiple on-field infractions.
As one of the best linebackers in football, Burfict's tenacious play is a hallmark of his game -- as evidenced by his clean tackle on Roethlisberger Saturday night that knocked the quarterback out for multiple series.
But in addition to that, Burfict is building a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in football.