NFL bad boy Vontaze Burfict banned for rest of the season for helmet-to-helmet hit (VIDEO)
Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the 2019 season on Monday for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules after a crushing helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, who was grounded and on one knee when Burfict delivered the hit.
The incident is just the latest in a string of incidents involving the hard-hitting linebacker, with Burfict amassing more than $4 million in fines from his on-field indiscretions and receiving bans that saw him miss the start of the 2016 and 2017 NFL seasons for violations of player-safety rules, plus a 2018 ban after a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drugs rules.
Speaking after the game on Sunday, veteran Raiders coach John Gruden said the hit warranted a penalty.
"It's a tough decision, it's a tough call. I think it was a flag," he said.
"It was very well-documented that the league was going to review those plays this year in New York City. So, that's what happened and I'll wait to hear what their reasoning was. But it was a penalty, he went in there with his head down, it was called and, unfortunately for us, it was an ejection."
Burfict's hit saw him thrown out of the game during the Raiders' 31-24 win over the Colts, but the punishment didn't end there, as NFL bosses reviewed the incident, along with Burfict's past incidents of over-aggressiveness and dangerous play on the fight, before handing out a ban for the rest of the 2019 season.
The NFL announced the punishment and released a passage from the letter sent to Burfict from NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan.
"There were no mitigating circumstances on this play. Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game. Following each of your previous rules violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from the unnecessary risk."
Burfict had traveled to London with the Raiders for this coming weekend's game against the Chicago Bears, but will now be sent back to the United States, where he is expected to appeal the length of the suspension.