From the sounds of it, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict won’t receive a suspension for his cheap shot against the New England Patriots in Week 6.
Burfict, who spent the first three weeks of the season suspended, went low on Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett in the eventual 35-17 New England victory.
The play in question:
— Will D. (@WAD1980) October 16, 2016
Other angles show Tom Brady pumped in Bennett’s direction, but a low hit is a low hit.
Based on a basic search of opinion, Burfict will skate by with a fine. Former head of NFL officials Mike Pereira hates the idea, as he said on the Rich Eisen Show, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer:
If it’s a large fine and not games they don’t have any guts. I mean, the guy was suspended for the first three games of the season. So you pile on, you pile on punishment when you look at history, and he has history dating all the way back to college for God’s sakes. Obviously it doesn’t apply in the NFL, but I don’t see how they can do anything but suspend him because it was not a football act. He didn’t lead with the helmet trying to break up a pass. He didn’t do that. This was just a dead, you know, cheap, intentional cheap shot. So to me, I’m like shocked if the NFL doesn’t maintain some leverage here and get rid of him for another couple of games.
Pereira certainly won’t be alone in this thought process. Even if Burfict was trying to go low because he thought Bennett might leap for a catch (and league rules mandate going low, anyway), he’s not a guy who deserves the benefit of the doubt in any situation.
As such, the league will come under fire for anything short of a suspension.
Its former head of officials speaking out is just the beginning.