Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is set to miss the start of the upcoming NFL season for a third consecutive year. The 27-year-old recently lost his appeal for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy, and will now serve a four-game suspension.
Vontaze Burfict’s failed drug test was one of the NFL’s biggest talking points last month. After suffering a concussion following a hit from Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster in December, Burfict received prescribed medication. He later picked up another injury during a game with the Detroit Lions that ruled him out for the rest of the season, and was again given prescribed medication. Shortly after, Burfict failed a drug-test. His excuse was simple – why would he take performance-enhancing drugs if he wasn’t even playing.
Burfict opted to appeal the NFL’s decision to serve any form of punishment for the failed test, and earlier this week, it was announced that the appeal had been denied and Burfict will serve four-game ban at the start of the upcoming season.
This is not the first time that the hotheaded linebacker has been punished by the NFL however, and upon completion of his four-game ban, Burfict will have missed a total of 10 games due to suspension.
Summarizing Burfict’s troubled past, NFL journalist Marc Sessler tweeted: “Along with multiple suspensions, Burfict has been forced to pay thousands out of pocket for a flurry of hits on defenseless players, flipping the middle finger to fans, ankle twisting, spearing & striking a player in groin. A real gem!”
It seems that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and director Duke Tobin are keen to steer Burfict in the right direction however, rejecting rumours that the 27-year-old will be released in the offseason.
“Do we have conversations on that a lot? Sure, we have conversations on that a lot,” said Tobin. “But at the end of the day we are a player-oriented business and the players are the ones that win or lose for us. We try to collect as many players that can help us win. That’s our job. That’s what we do. That’s our responsibility as an organization: To try to put the best football team on the field that we possibly can.
“It’s not ideal when a guy is not available to us and we recognise that, but our over-riding thought is how to field the best football team we can possibly field.”