I’m of course talking about Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who is coming off another instance in which he performed a dangerous and dirty play on an opposing player.
The hit came just two games into Burfict’s return from a four-game suspension for violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. It’s unclear right now whether the NFL plans to fine Burfict. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Asked about Burfict on Friday afternoon, the Chiefs actually had some nice things to say about the Bengals linebacker.
“This is the NFL,” ight end Travis Kelce explained. “The entire week last week (against the Patriots) I was getting tripped at the line of scrimmage. You got to be aware on the football field at all times. It’s grown men with pads and a reckless abandon, so I don’t think this week is any different. I know [Burfict] personally. I don’t think he’s out for anybody right now—it’s just the way he plays the game, you know what I mean? Either you got a guy like that on your team or you don’t.”
“He’s just like any other guy that I’ve played against,” he said. “It’s always been a respect type of thing. I’ve seen him on the field, off the field. He seems as personable as anybody else. He doesn’t seem like he has hate out here for somebody else. I think he’s just a very physical football player. I’m not defending the guy. I’m not saying that he’s not out here—I don’t frankly know. I just know that everything with me and him has been cool.”
Tyreek Hill said he wished Burfict were a Chief.
“I love him as a player,” Hill said. “I feel like if I was a D-coordinator and I had to choose any linebacker in the NFL, I would definitely choose him. He’s definitely that hard-nosed, solid tackler, just dirty and grimy linebacker that I like...I’m not going to lie. Some of the stuff he do—it’s kind of over the border, but as a player, I like him as a player.”
I respect Kelce and Hill as players—they are two of the most talented athletes I have ever had the privilege to cover—but I strongly disagree with them here.
After the play against Brown, Burfict pointed to Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and yelled, “You’re next!” according to the NFL Network.
This is the play Ben Roethlisberger claims Vontaze Burfict yelled “You’re next!” at Juju Smith-Schuster. You can see Burfict point at Smith-Schuster twice here. pic.twitter.com/WVLXCwtlPw— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) October 16, 2018
Burfict is the NFL’s single-player equivalent to the NFL’s infamous bounty-fund program, and it’s just a matter of time until he delivers a dirty blow that ends a career.
Perhaps the tone of Hill and Kelce will change if that player happens to be a Chief on Sunday night.