The NFL is in the midst of a storm of bad PR. Apparently, Vontaze Burfict doesn’t think that means anything. Seriously, when the league you are a part of is under the microscope, why would you act like a neanderthal? It’s a bad act by a man who has proven to be a bonehead on the field. So, Roger Goodell, what are you going to do about this?
Unsurprisingly, nothing major as of yet. For those who haven’t heard of this most recent Vontaze Burfict incident, during the abysmal tie that occurred in the game between the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals, Burfict (a linebacker for Cincinnati) when the extra mile to try to injure the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen of Carolina, two players who have not-too-long had ankle injuries. Watch the video, Burfict definitely keeps going at the ankles of the two players after the play (the Cam Newton video has been shown numerous times on SportsCenter). $25,000 was the fine handed down to Burfict by the NFL (which he is appealing). What does this all mean? Roger Goodell continues to look bad.
The domestic violence problem league-wide is not over yet, not by a long shot, and Goodell has already botched the NFL’s handling of the issue so badly that it’s pretty much irreparable at this point. Now we have another incident, one which sees a player that has had multiple fines before committing a pretty disgusting act, and he merely gets a fine and isn’t even being called in to the league offices. You have got to be kidding me. Roger Goodell has looked awful in the last few months for his handling of situations, and now this? A player who clearly commits an act with malicious intent is getting essentially a slap on the wrist. Burfict had a record in college of being dirty, being irresponsible (he dealt with academic issues multiple times) and that trend has continued in the pros as well (last year he led the league in penalties). This was the ultimate chance to make a statement, and Goodell hasn’t and yet again looks bad.
This act by Burfict was blatant and egregious. This was the perfect chance to come down hard on a player, to make it look like the league really cares about player safety and won’t tolerate dirty players and dirty plays. Instead Burfict gets a fine, doesn’t even have to meet with the Commissioner and the rest of the league now knows that they can do something dirty on the field and get very little in terms of punishment. Does Roger Goodell want everyone to think he’s atrocious at his job? Because that’s what it seems like at this point. Look at Adam Silver in the NBA for a comparison. Do I agree with him banning Donald Sterling from the NBA? Not necessarily, but whatever side of the debate you fall on, one thing that can be agreed upon is the fact that he took a stand and came down hard is a good thing for both himself and for the whole league. Meanwhile, Roger Goodell is blatantly lying to the public as he talks about concern for player safety as he hands down fines while simultaneously announcing to the league that essentially you can get away with playing dirty and taking cheap shots at your opponents. It isn’t like Vontaze Burfict just went after any two players, he clearly put in extra effort to attempt to re-injure players who have had ankle problems. How does that not warrant a suspension?
Roger Goodell looks awful right now, even worse than before. He royally messed up everything surrounding the league’s domestic violence problems and now it is even more evident that the whole narrative about caring for the safety of players doesn’t matter at all. If it really did matter to him and the league, he would have brought the hammer down on Vontaze Burfict like he deserves. Burfict should not be playing the next couple of weeks for his vile plays against Cam Newton and Greg Olsen, but he will be thanks to carelessness from the NFL. What happens next time somebody does something to intentional try to injure an opposing player on the field? If a player with a sordid past in football got away with it, it sets a very dangerous precedent for the rest of the league. In a perfect world, Vontaze Burfict would be banished from the league for at least some time. And in that same perfect world, Commissioner Goodell would have the same fate.