INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Vontaze Burfict blew kisses to the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd Sunday after being ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit against Jack Doyle.
Turns out he also was saying ‘Adios’ to the rest of the season.
The Oakland Raiders’ volatile linebacker has been suspended for the remainder of the season by the NFL in the aftermath of his zeroing in and whacking Doyle in the second quarter of the Indianapolis Colts’ 31-24 loss to the Raiders.
The suspension, according to a statement from the league, includes any postseason games and was “for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules.’’
Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice-president of football operations, noted in a letter to Burfict “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 rule 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 unnecessary risk.’’
Head-hunting. Pure and simple. Also wondering if NFL will look into Lamarcus Joyner’s hit. Wasn’t as egregious, but helmet to helmet. pic.twitter.com/wmLRgL2pNC
— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) September 30, 2019
As Doyle was securing a 5-yard reception from Jacoby Brissett, Burfict and safety Lamarcus Joyner converged on him. Burfict led with his helmet and drilled Doyle. Joyner also made helmet-to-helmet contact.
Burfict initially was penalized 15 yards for a personal foul. After a review of the play from NFL officials in New York, he was disqualified from the game.
Doyle didn’t consider the play exceptional.
“I just got tackled,’’ he said. “I’m sure it looked worse than it was. I didn’t really feel anything from it. My helmet protected me.’’
Raiders coach Jon Gruden agreed with the personal foul, but seemingly didn’t agree with the ruling to eject his starting linebacker.
“I think it’s a tough decision. It’s a tough call,’’ he said. “I think it was a flag. It was very well-documented that the league was going to review those plays in New York, so that’s what happened.
“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.’’
It’s worth speculating on Burfict’s future, one of the league’s more egregious repeat offenders. He’s lost more than $4 million in fines and forfeited game checks for illegal hits – more than 10 – and a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Burfict signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Raiders during the offseason following a seven-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals.
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