Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been fined $75,000 for his actions in Week 6’s 35-17 loss to the Patriots, according to Pro Football Talk’s Zac Jackson. The fifth-year veteran defended his reputation as a dirty player after going low for a tackle on Martellus Bennett, butting heads in a trash talk battle with Rob Gronkowski and seemingly stomping on LeGarrette Blount after Blount scored the game’s final touchdown.
While Burfict sought out Bennett to apologize for the low hit after the game, he hasn’t made any public comment about his interactions with Gronkowski or Blount.
Burfict has already appealed the fine, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis objected to the punishment, too.
“[Burfict] didn’t do anything wrong. We were not in the wrong here,” Lewis said. “I don’t think he meant to do anything. I’ve been through it back and forth (on screens) as big as this board behind me. All I can see was he tried to step through and tried to go help the teammate that had somebody from another team had a hand on his teammates’ face mask pushing him in the face. That’s what he’s trying to get to.”
Burfict collects league fines and suspensions like a sneakerhead does Air Jordans. He had been flagged for 16 personal fouls (and 26 accepted penalties in all) in his first four seasons, and fined enough to pay for a modest suburban home in the outlying Cincinnati area. His helmet-to-helmet hit on Antonio Brown in last year’s AFC Wild Card game helped cost the Bengals their season and also earned the hotheaded linebacker a three-game suspension to start 2016.
Burfict promised he would change his style of play during the offseason. He had gone without being flagged in his first two games of the season before finding himself in trouble with the league in his third.
Having Burfict back should help Cincinnati, but the Bengals have not been able to capitalize on their star linebacker’s return. The defending AFC North champions have limped out to a 2-4 start thanks to a subpar defense (20th in the NFL) and ineffective offense (29th). Unless something changes, Marvin Lewis’s team will face its first winter without a postseason appearance since 2010.