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The Bengals Reaction to Vontaze Burfict's Suspension is Just So Bengals

Cincinnati.comIn an offseason otherwise full of positives for the Bengals personnel staff, the four-game suspension levied against Vontaze Burfict for performance-enhancing drugs served as a rain cloud blocking the sun.

This was nothing new, of course. This marked the third consecutive season Burfict would open the year with at least a three-game suspension. … Due to suspension and injury, Burfict has missed 29 of 66 possible games the last four years.

“It’s not ideal,” director of player personnel Duke Tobin said this week at the league meetings. “The situation he has put us in is not ideal. We are a player-oriented business. Players that can make a difference are important and we recognize that. The more he’s not available to us the more it hurts us.” …

“He shouldn’t hurt himself like that,” [Marvin] Lewis said. “He hurts himself. This is the first time he’s ever done anything that has hurt himself from off the field. He shouldn’t do that.” …

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“Vontaze is well-liked and respected in the locker room,” [VP Troy Blackburn] said. “The players know that a) he’s a special player and b) he’s a really smart football player. I don’t think there is going to be a negative that way. The negative is going to be lost time. When you are not there you are not helping the team win.”

I cannot stress enough how little I care about PED usage. Take them. Don’t take them. Take them when the mood hits you. Do. Not. Care. And that goes for guys on my team. Guys on your team. Guys on teams I barely pay attention to. I want Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in the Hall of Fame. I’m at negative 1000 fuck given about PEDs and inventing new fucks to not give all the time. There’s no moral line here. All I ask of a guy is that he not get caught. That’s my standard. If you can beat the system, more power to you. If you can’t, don’t. The issue is that simple.

And yet I’m strangely fascinated by Vontaze Burfict getting nabbed and the Bengals reaction to it. Not just because he flunked the test, but because this is just another chapter in the most dysfunctional, toxic and flat out abusive player/team relationship in all of sports. I mean, read those comments. Everyone on the Bengals staff talks like the wife in a Lifetime Original Movie [TM] where the husband treats her like garbage, pisses their money away, bangs the babysitter and tells her she’s worthless but she still loves him.

I mean, Burfict doesn’t even have the courtesy to come up with a decent excuse for getting nabbed. According to Adam Schefter, “Burfict’s appeal will center around the fact that he was on prescribed medication for the concussion he suffered on a hit from Steelers’ wide receiver JuJu Smith Schuster on Dec. 4 and that he suffered a Grade 3 shoulder AC sprain during the Detroit Lions game on Dec. 24 and was on prescribed medications for this injury as well, per another source.” Yeah, that old chestnut. The ol’ “Doctors prescribed me performance enhancing concussion meds again” alibi. Works every time. But neither we nor the Bengals should expect anything better at this point.

Here is just a partial history of Burfict’s Bengal’s career:

–2013: Fined for punching Packers’ TE Ryan Taylor in the balls
–2013: Collected three 15-yard personal fouls in a single game
–2014: Fined for twisting the ankles of both Cam Newton and Greg Olsen, who’d been battling ankle injuries
–2015: Picked up two unnecessary roughness calls and a dive at Ben Roethlisberger’s knees in a single game
–2016: Laid out Antonio Brown with a killshot that kept a drive alive and cost Cincy a playoff game
–2016: Fined for stomping on LeGarrette Blount
–2016: Dove at Martellus Bennett’s knee and then started a fight with Rob Gronkowski:

–2017: Started a brawl in training camp by diving at Gio Bernard’s knees
–2018: Tossed from a game for bumping an official

And this list barely scratches the surface. There are plenty of other examples. For instance, how he flunked a drug test at the Combine in 2012, costing the former All American a draft slot before the Bengals took this stray dog in and gave him a home, the fact that he’s feral be damned.

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So like I said, it’s weirdly compelling to watch this relationship play out. The bad man who’s no damned good but the woman who puts up with it because she can’t stop thinking she can fix him. And the more she enables his bad behavior, the more bad behavior she gets. With zero playoff wins to show for it. All I hope is that it goes on forever this way because this trainwreck is fascinating to watch and there is no end in sight.

@jerrythornton1