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Dunlap: Burfict Is Horrible For The NFL

A cheap shot here, a shove after the whistle there.

A questionable hit here, a dive at the knees of the quarterback there.

So tell me, because I am all ears: What good is served by having a guy like Vontaze Burfict in the National Football League?

How does he help the product?

How does he do anything to make it more watchable?

And, here's the hammer question: How will this all end up? That is to say, the league will find itself in a real quagmire if they don't do something about the underhanded, abhorrent, repulsive play of the Cincinnati Bengals linebacker soon.

Know why? Because opponents will be left with having to take matters into their own hands, having to police the situation themselves and that is, quite obviously, not what the NFL wants or needs.

Granted, football at such a high level -- played by men with brilliant speed and hulking size -- is a brutal endeavor. We see it every Sunday and are reminded of its viciousness by the mere presence of a person posted up on the sidelines to evaluate expected head trauma.

All that said, however, the display from Burfict on Sunday in a 33-20 Steelers win in Cincinnati was downright repugnant.

Keep in mind this is a man who celebrated a downfield tackle on Nov. 1 that felled Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell for the season. It was a play that raised the ire of the Steelers, a questionable moment of festivity that stuck with this team and had the carryover of trash talking and then a bit of a scrum before Sunday's game.

Burfict was just getting started.

His most notorious action in Sunday's Steelers win -- which seemed to have jawing, pushing and shoving at the end of every play -- came just after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger released a pass.

On the play in question, Burfict takes (at the very least) a step-and-a-half after the ball is out of Roethlisberger's hands, lowers his head and dives headlong at the knees of the signalcaller.

He buckles the quarterback.

There is no flag.

There should be a fine coming his way from the league.

It is the kind of hit that ends careers and sends people to the hospital after they get a ride to an ambulance on one of those nifty little John Deere carts that pick them up on the field when they can't walk.

It's tough for anyone not named Vontaze Burfict to judge his intent on that play, but from these eyes it looked like a wholly, absolutely spineless and late hit intended to wipe out the knees of a man who couldn't defend himself.

Playing in the National Football League is a brutal way to make a living and there are many, many anticipated risks -- even as such, what Burfict did on that play crosses any line.

Perhaps that is why, late in the game on a short De'Angelo Williams touchdown that put it out of reach at 33-13, Burfict looked as if he was targeted. On the play Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth goes hard and low -- a yard or so deep in the end zone -- at the outside of Burfict's right knee.

Could Burfict have gotten into the play to tackle Williams? Maybe. That's questionable.

Was there something more to the iffy block that Spaeth threw on Burfict? A bit of intended retribution?

Maybe. That's also questionable. We'll never really know.

What I do know is this: If Vontaze Burfict continues with the shenanigans he showed all day Sunday, the NFL is going to have a real problem on their hands -- that is, if they don't already.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can e-mail him at Check out his bio here.

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