Does Burfict deserve his bad reputation?


Ever since he entered NFL as an undrafted free-agent with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012, Vontaze Burfict has been plagued by fines and suspensions. Seemingly every year, Burfict finds new ways to get himself in trouble, which harms his career, and ultimately harms his team as well. Whether it be an illegal hit or flipping off fans, Burfict has a knack for finding ways of getting fined or suspended.

Officials are scared of the chaos he causes on the field, and they give him a short leash for any mistakes. I have seen plenty of other NFL players continually play in an illegal way and not receive anything near the penalty Burfict would receive. This brings about a lingering question: Is the NFL just out to get this man?

Burfict’s antics have been apparent for quite some time now, and I do think that he needs to correct this problem on his own. His actions are hurting his career (especially his salary), and they are affecting his team in a negative way. Burfict is a big contributor on the Bengals defense, and without him playing, they lack a sense of leadership and swagger on the field.

However, it seems like the NFL really likes to punish Vontaze Burfict, because it seems like he is suspended more than any other player that I remember. Especially for things I feel most other NFL players would get away with.

I think that Burfict plays the game harder than almost anyone else in the NFL, so hard that it leads him to get fined and suspended for some of his play. There’s an old saying, “if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’”, and I think Burfict epitomizes this statement. Not to say that he cheats at football, which I don’t believe he does, but doesn’t this show that the man is just playing hard and trying, and is not just trying to kill his opponents?

Opposing players absolutely despise this man; many stating that he has purposely tried to injure them. Many of these critics are superstars in the NFL. For example, in a 2014 game against the Carolina Panthers, Vontaze allegedly twisted the ankles of two stars for the Panthers, Cam Newton and Greg Olsen. Olsen had harsh words directed at Burfict in his post-game interview,

“He’s a hard-nosed player, his style of game is what he is. It’s why he knocks himself out half the time.” Olsen and Newton both had ankle problems prior to this incident.

For many fans, including some Cincinnati fans, this is not a valid argument. held a poll to see who the most hated player in the NFL was for 2017, and not surprising, Burfict finished in second place.

Fans cannot stand him, especially fans of the Bengals’ bitter rival, Pittsburgh Steelers. Steelers’ fan Alex Hetrick expresses his animosity towards Burfict, saying,

“He is one of the dirtiest players I’ve ever seen, cheap shots here and there, suspension after suspension, and I just want to thank him for that playoff win a few years ago, really had me worried.” Hetrick certainly did not hold back his feelings towards Burfict.

Seconds before the infamous hit by Burfict in the 2016 playoffs (photo from

Vontaze has forfeited a whopping $805,000 of his earnings due to fines over a span of fifty-three games. This is more than what some people make over a lifetime, gone down the drain.

Although Burfict has had his fair share of blemishes throughout his career, he still remains one great football player. Every year he is a great contributor to his team, even if he is suspended or fined throughout the season. His competitive way of playing leads him to great success on the field, but his style also pays the price.