Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict has season-long suspension upheld

Vontaze Burfict will stay suspended for the rest of the 2019 season following Wednesday’s ruling in his appeal hearing. 

Per NFL senior vice president of football and internal communications Michael Signora, appeals officer Derrick Brooks upheld the league’s discipline for the Oakland Raiders linebacker

The league first revealed Burfict’s suspension on Sept. 30, one day after he was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jack Doyle in the second quarter of Oakland’s 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that Burfict was unlikely to win his appeal because of “past transgressions that include numerous fines and prior suspensions for repeated violations of player safety rules.”

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the NFL notified Burfict of a second illegal hit against the Colts that would be used in its defense against his appeal.  Burfict has a history of being disciplined for illegal hits throughout his career. The 29-year-old was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season for a helmet-to-helmet hit against Antonio Brown in an AFC Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He received a five-game suspension in 2017 for a blindside block against Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, but it was reduced to three games on appeal. 

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The Raiders signed Burfict to a one-year deal in the offseason.

He started each of the team’s first four games, recording 18 combined tackles and one pass breakup. 

With Burfict out, Tahir Whitehead played middle linebacker as the defensive playcaller in London in the Raiders’ defeat of the Chicago Bears, and Nicholas Morrow also saw extended time. “They played every play,” Gruden said Tuesday. “They didn’t come off the field. They played great. That doesn’t undermine that we miss Vontaze, his leadership and his experience, play making and all that stuff. Nick and Whitehead, they didn’t come off the field the other night. They played every single play. Morrow had an interception. I think Whitehead did a great job of running the show. Those guys deserve credit.”

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