01/14/16 by Matthew S. Vandriak
So here we are looking ahead to this weekends NFL playoff matchups. But instead of the major topic of discussion regarding the NFL being what's ahead, it remains what happened last weekend in the Wild Card round matchup between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. And the way that game ended and the discussion surrounding it remains a black eye on the National Football League.
Now instead of looking ahead to the matchup with the Broncos, the Steelers are wondering if Antonio Brown is going to be able to play. Of course Brown was the victim of a head shot at the hands of Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Brown is still in the NFL's concussion protocol, it's uncertain if he'll be cleared to play against Denver. For the hit, Burfict was suspended for the first 3 games of next season.
That suspension is a joke. The NFL had a chance to make a statement regarding dirty play, intent to injure, cheap shots, and player safety. Instead the league missed the mark. Completely missed the mark. One of its top players may not be able to play this weekend because of a cheap, head hunting, unnecessary hit. Not just Steelers fans, but fans of football may not get to see probably the NFL's best wide receiver and one of it's most dynamic players play because of Vontaze Burfict.
Look, if Burfict was a player with no history of dirty play, then a lesser punishment would be just. But this is a guy with a history of being a dirty play. Especially recently. Google his name and dirty play, and watch for yourself. This was the NFL's chance to make a statement. To let it be known this kind of thing won't be tolerated. Instead, Burfict got off easy.
If the NFL was serious about protecting players and getting this kind of play out of the game, Burfict should've been suspended 8 games. That would've shown everyone the league is serious. It would've made an example of a player who has gone out of his way to try and injure opposing players. It would've gotten the media talking about what the NFL Is doing going forward instead of talking about the ridiculousness of what happened in front of a global audience in a playoff game
This isn't just to say Vontaze Burfict was wrong. All of the coaches on the field in the final moments of the game were wrong. The officials not being able to keep things under control for the second time in a Pittsburgh/Cincinnati game were wrong. Adam Jones losing control of his emotions and costing the Bengals was wrong. The Bengals fans throwing objects at an injured Ben Roethlisberger while he was being carted off the field were wrong.
But none of those things can be changed now. What could've been changed was how the NFL reacted to and addressed the actions of Vontaze Burfict. Instead, they dropped the ball. And that was more wrong than anything else that happened last weekend.
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