Former head of officials: NFL is gutless if it doesn't suspend Vontaze Burfict

It appears linebacker Vontaze Burfict didn't use his early-season suspension to reflect on the actions that got him there. In January, the league banned him for the Bengals' first three games of 2016 "for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules."

But any delusions that he had learned his lesson were just that. On Sunday, Burfict went low on Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett in what can be described as a dangerous, dirty hit.

There's more.

In that same game, it appears that Burfict walks toward the pile of bodies and steps on running back LeGarrette Blount. The evidence is inconclusive, but Blount's reaction is noteworthy.

The NFL says it is looking into the matter but for the former head of officials, anything short of a(nother) suspension is unacceptable.

"If it's a large fine and not games they don't have any guts," Mike Pereira, the former NFL vice president of officials, told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "I mean, the guy was suspended for the first three games of the season. So you pile on, you pile on punishment when you look at history, and he has history dating all the way back to college for God's sakes. Obviously it doesn't apply in the NFL, but I don't see how they can do anything but suspend him because it was not a football act. He didn't lead with the helmet trying to break up a pass. He didn't do that. This was just a dead, you know, cheap, intentional cheap shot. So to me, I'm like shocked if the NFL doesn't maintain some leverage here and get rid of him for another couple of games."

Meanwhile, ESPN is reporting that the Bengals do not expect Burfict to be suspended but he would instead receive a "slap on the wrist for now" -- i.e., a fine. That punishment may change if the league also concludes that Burfict deliberately stomped on Blount.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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