Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended without pay by the NFL for the rest of the season – including any postseason games – for repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules.
The announcement from the league was made Monday, one day after Burfict’s ejection for his helmet-to-helmet hit to Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle in the second quarter. When he left the field, Burfict blew kisses to the Indianapolis crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Raiders would go on to defeat the Colts 31-24.
It is the longest punishment for an on-field act in NFL history, according to NFL.com. Burfict, 29, has three business days to file an appeal. CNN has reached out to the NFL Players Association for comment.
Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, issued the suspension for a violation of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10, which states: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”
“There were no mitigating circumstances on this play,” Runyan wrote in his letter to Burfict. “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.
“Your extensive history of rules violations is factored into this decision regarding accountability measures.”
Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.
Burfict, who spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, signed with the Raiders in March. This will be the fourth suspension of his career, and he’s also had numerous fines for illegal hits.
In 2017, he was suspended for five games – later reduced to three – for making prohibited contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless player as well as forcible contact with his opponent away from the flow of the play.
In 2016, Burfict was suspended for the first three games of the season for unnecessary roughness for using his shoulder to make forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver.
Burfict also was suspended in 2018, for four games, for use of a banned substance.