Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther expressed his displeasure with the season-long suspension of starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Thursday.
“For us to sign him and the history I had with this guy, with us knowing that the next infraction he was going to get was gonna end his season, maybe his career, I think it was a witch hunt from the beginning quite honestly,” Guenther said. “Somebody in the league didn’t want him playing football and they got what they wanted. So we’re going to keep a close eye, the Raiders are going to keep a close eye and make sure everybody’s being held to the same standard as Vontaze was.
.”.. Does it make any sense to sign a guy after one infraction he’s going to get thrown out of the league for a year? No, it doesn’t. I think it’s very unfair. it’s unfair to our team. It’s unfair to Vontaze. But we’ve got resilient players in there, proud guys and they’re going to fill in for him and they’re going to play for him.”
Burfict was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season after he lowered his helmet to initiate contact on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle on Sept. 30.
The eighth-year pro will forfeit nearly $1.2 million — $879,412 in base salary and $284,375 in per-game roster bonuses — during the suspension. His one-year deal with the Raiders expires after this season, making him a free agent next March.
NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan cited Burfict’s “extensive history of rules violations” as a reason for the ban.
“There’s no standard there. That’s the issue I have,” the 47-year-old Guenther said. “There’s nothing, like, ‘Hey, next time you do this, you’re gone from the year, maybe your career.’ I think that’s unfair. Hey, you can warn a guy but if you put that in writing, the next time this happens, you’re done, OK? That’s where I have a problem. That’s unfair to the kid. That’s unfair to all the players around the league to not know where you (stand). ... Really, hey, OK, next time you do this, you’ve been warned, you’ve been warned. Now you give this guy a whole-year suspension? I don’t think that’s right at all. I don’t care who says what. I don’t believe that’s the right thing to do.
“And now they’ve opened up a whole can of worms as far as the next guy who’s going to do it. We’ve got to make sure if we’re going to do it to this one guy, this one guy driving 38 miles an hour in a 30 mile-an-hour zone for the cop looking for one guy doing it, that all the players are (held) to the same standard. That’s where I have the issue.”
Burfict, 29, missed the opening of both the 2016 and 2017 seasons while serving suspensions for player-safety violations, and he was out again at the start of 2018 for a violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
In 2016, Burfict had a five-game suspension for a hit on Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman reduced by appeals officer James Thrash to three games.
Burfict amassed more than $4 million in on-field conduct fines during a turbulent seven-year stretch with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2012-18.
—Field Level Media