The Oakland Raiders knew the risks when they signed inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Long considered one of the dirtiest players in the NFL, there was no guarantee that he was going to play a full 16-game season.
The NFL has continued to put player safety at the top of their priority list, something that doesn't exactly jive with how Burfict plays. The 29-year-old has received a total of 13 suspensions and fines in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, two of the most recent being multi-game suspensions for illegal hits.
Burfict made his biggest mistake last Sunday, when he speared Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle in the head with his helmet. He was immediately ejected and the NFL didn't hesitate to respond, alerting him the next day that .
Head coach Jon Gruden obviously was not a fan of the NFL's decision, but said that he's talked to the league office and is awaiting Burfict's appeal.
"I'm not really going to say anything," Gruden said, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. "I've talked to (Jon) Runyan (NFL Vice President of Football Operations) in the league office, he knows how I feel. It hurts our team really bad. And I'm anxious to see what the appeal says. I'm not happy about it. At all. And I don't want to say anything else about it. I'm obviously upset about it."
The Raiders' starting inside backer has recorded 18 combined tackles in four games played. While the hit itself doesn't necessarily deserve a season-long suspension, the NFL is clearly running out of options when it comes to Burfict. Sitting him for several games in the last two instances didn't force him to reconsider how he plays the game of football, and this may be Burfict's last chance before he gets himself exiled from the league.