Vontaze Burfict took it upon himself to debilitate the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver corps last weekend, it appears.
The Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, who’s administered a laundry list of questionable hits over the years, added to that list Sunday with a vicious elbow to the head of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Burfict’s hit obviously drew the ire of Brown’s teammates, who labeled the play “pathetic” and called for Burfict’s suspension. But Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger revealed another incident involving Burfict that in his mind was just as disturbing.
“That very next play … (Burfict) is standing there, points to (Steelers wide receiver) JuJu (Smith-Schuster) and says, ‘You’re next,’ ” Roethlisberger said Tuesday during an interview on 93.7 The Fan. “To me that’s completely uncalled for and that’s where I think I had the biggest issue.”
Shortly after Roethlisberger’s comments, NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo appeared to find video evidence of that play, which shows Burfict pointing twice in Smith-Schuster’s direction and yelling at him.
(Click here to watch the video.)
It’s bad enough that Burfict would intentionally target Brown’s head with an elbow. But the fact that he was fully aware of his own dirty hit — and planned to do the same thing to Smith-Schuster — is a different level of sinister.
Unfortunately, we shouldn’t be too surprised by Burfict’s behavior, especially as it concerns the Steelers. The 28-year-old linebacker unleashed a ruthless cheap shot on Brown in the 2016 AFC Wild Card Game and was on the receiving end of Smith-Schuster’s crushing block late in the 2017 season, which Burfict apparently felt the need to atone for Sunday.
The NFL is reviewing Burfict’s latest actions to see if they warrant a suspension, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.