Vontaze wants to make a change

Posted at 10:46 AM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 11:04:44-05

CINCINNATI -- Vontaze Burfict's style of play has been subject to scrutiny for much of his career -- going back to his college days.

But he wants to change that, he told ESPN's Josina Anderson.

"I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble," he said in an interview Monday. "My style of play is aggressive, and [the game has] changed, and I have to change with it."

After rough hits in the Bengals' wild-card playoff game versus the Steelers, Burfict was swiftly suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season.

Burfict and his agent fought the suspension, but it was upheld. Burfict also met with commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss the penalties and the suspension.

"That play right there, I think if I wasn't number 55, I wouldn't have got flagged," Burfict told ESPN.

COLUMN: Nobody's Burfict. Give Vontaze a break.

BROO VIEW: Time to cut and run from Vontaze Burfict?

The linebacker's suspension came the Monday after the playoffs game, but it was credited to “repeated violations of safety-related playing rules,” the NFL said in a press release.

However, his actions in the wild-card game were noted with the suspension decision; NFL Vice President Merton Hanks said Burfict’s hit put Steelers WR Antonio Brown at “an unnecessary risk for injury and should have been avoided.”

Brown, who was in concussion protocol during the Steelers' next playoff game, said defenders like Burfict "want to kill me."

"He's an idiot," Brown said of Burfict on the the Dan Patrick Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. "In that situation Burflict and Pacman Jones cost them the game, from the hit to the personal foul, allowed us to make the field goal and advance to the next round.

“You know what kind of guy he is, what type of player he is," Brown said of Burfict. "He’s a real unprofessional-like player. An undisciplined player."

Burfict was fined four times last season, including $69,454 for three personal fouls against the Steelers on Dec. 13. Those penalties were for roughing the passer, a facemask and unnecessary roughness. He also was fined $50,000 for unnecessarily contacting a Ravens' player who was out of play on Jan. 3.

The linebacker's reputation as a fast-and-loose player kept him from being drafted out of college. While Burfict has been one of the league leaders in tackles -- with 74 tackles, one sack and two interceptions for the Bengals last season -- he has also been among the leaders in personal fouls and fines.

But the linebacker said he wants to put those days behind him, or at least tweak his style of play to avoid future penalties. 

"Like I told coach, I wish I could take that play back because I probably would've hit him low," Burfict told ESPN. "I don't like hitting low, but I have to change because it's getting flags because I hit him high or hit him in the helmet, and it's so hard to determine where to hit the offender because they're gonna tuck their body, and you have to pretty much tuck with them."


Here's a list of Burfict's career fines leading to his 2016 three game suspension, per ESPN Stats & Information:

* 2015 Week 17: $50K for unnecessary contact of an opponent who was out of play vs. Ravens
* 2015 Week 14: A total of $69,454 for roughing the passer, face mask and unnecessary roughness penalties
* 2014 Week 6: $25K for twisting the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen
* 2013 Week 8: $21K for hitting Stephen Hill with the crown of his helmet
* 2013 Week 6: $7,875 for a face mask penalty vs. the Bills' Fred Jackson
* 2013 Week 3: A total of $31K for a hit on a defenseless player and striking an opponent in the groin