Flavell: Why punish the kid for standing up to the bully?

Posted on Dec 5 2017 - 3:04pm by Cody Flavell
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JuJu Smith-Schuster was suspended one game for his hit on Vontaze Burfict. (Photo Credit: Frank Victores/Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

From the time I began my schooling in pre-school, I was taught not to bully other people and if you witnessed bullying going on, stand up for yourself or whoever is being bullied. Monday night, JuJu Smith-Schuster laid a clean football block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict as he was going to make a tackle on Steelers’ running back Le’Veon Bell. He then stood over Burfict as he laid on the ground, visibly dazed.

The NFL announced that Smith-Schuster will be suspended one game for the hit.

Really?

We’ve seen Burfict, the player many label as the NFL’s dirtiest player, commit egregiously disgusting hits over the course of his career. Nobody forgot his hit on wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 Wild Card game, one the Bengals had complete control of with two minutes left that they watched slip away. Nobody forgot his deliberate season-ending tackle on Bell in which he got up screaming and celebrating after he hurt Bell. We can go as recently as the first meeting between these two teams this season when the camera caught Burfict kicking Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix in the head.

Burfict even made contact with an official in week 10 and stepped on a Titans player as he stood up in the same incident. He was ejected and the took it a step further by giving Titans fans a middle-finger.

Throughout all four of these aforementioned incidents, Burfict has been suspended for a grand total of three games. And all three were from the hit on Antonio Brown. Need more reason to gripe? Burfict actually received a five-game suspension for the hit to start last season but they shaved it by two games.

After some research, Burfict has been fined 11 times for a grand total of $2,596,678. That means there have been eleven matters in which the NFL could’ve suspended him. Including the three games he got for the hit on Brown, he’s been suspended for a grand total of SIX games.

Shocking, huh?

Fast forward to Sunday when Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski dropped a WWE style flying elbow into the back of Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White’s head. He got all of one game. White has a head injury and Gronkowski was upset because of an uncalled push off that resulted in an interception. So, he took out his anger by diving on White’s head. He got one whole game for a deliberate cheap shot and he will be back in the lineup against Pittsburgh next weekend.

Here we are, Tuesday afternoon, less than 20 hours removed from linebacker Ryan Shazier’s potentially career-ending injury discussing a suspension that seems mightily undeserving.

Smith-Schuster’s hit may have barely caught the crown of Burfict’s helmet and I mean barely. But please tell me what deserves a suspension here:

Video Courtesy of Highlight Heaven

Burfict was clearly in a lane to make the tackle so Smith-Schuster does exactly as his scouting profile says and lays a heavy block on an unsuspecting Burfict.

Does he leave his feet? No. Does he have the intent of hitting his helmet? No. He’s the exact same height so he lowers his head to avoid the helmet to helmet contact. Is Burfict keeping his head on a swivel like he’s taught as a defensive player? No.

We see these big hits all the time. They usually come in times like these when the player isn’t suspecting it. This is a football play. There is absolutely no deliberate intent to take out Burfict. We’ve seen Smith-Schuster lay some heavy blocks early in his career.

What’s so suspendable about it? Oh, he stood over him and barked at him while he laid there. That’s what the NFL is worried about.

So, now we are suspending people for taunting other grown men? You mean, the ones who make millions of dollar’s to play football and play an emotionally driven game? That means we throw a 15-yard penalty and cry for an ejection and suspension?

John Gruden spent the entire night lavishing and praising Burfict and how good of a player he is. Smith-Schuster laid a huge hit on the scum-of-the-earth Bengals linebacker and all hell broke loose. Gruden went on to scream and shout about how dirty it was and how there is no place in the game for hits like that.

Sorry Gruden, obviously you haven’t seen Burfict play over his seven years in the NFL. There’s no place for Burfict period in this league.

The fan favorite Steeler who has adapted to the culture in Pittsburgh beautifully gets punished for taking out years of teammates frustration on the same guy who’s been the main culprit of the frustration in Pittsburgh and he’s getting punished for standing up to (and over) the bully?

Only the NFL, commissioned by the universally-disliked Roger Goodell, could bungal something worse than the Bungals themselves.

 

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