Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s season-long suspension is still irking coaches weeks after the NFL handed down the punishment for his vicious hit on a receiver.
Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther railed against the decision to suspend Burfict and called it a “witch hunt” that may have ended the linebacker’s career, according to ESPN. Guenther said the team didn’t know he was one wrong move away from getting the major ban.
“I think it was a witch hunt from the beginning, quite honestly,” Guenther said. “Somebody in the league didn't want him playing football and they got what they wanted."
He added: “Does it make any sense to sign a guy that after one infraction, he's going to get thrown out of the league for a year? No, it doesn't. So, I think it's very unfair. It's unfair to our team. It's unfair to Vontaze.”
Guenther took exception to the unprecedented suspension and was shocked when NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan asserted in his letter to Burfict that the linebacker was told “future violations would result in escalated accountability measures.”
“There's no standard, and that's the issue,” Guenther said. “There's nothing [that says], ‘Hey, next time you do this, you're gone for the year. Maybe your career.’ I think that's unfair. You can warn a guy, but put that in writing -- the next time this happens, you're done. ... It's unfair to all the players around the league to not know.”
He added: “And now, they've opened a whole can of worms, as far as the next guy who's going to do it. So, we've got to make sure, if we're going to do it to this one guy, this one guy driving 38 mph in a 30 mph zone for the cop looking for one guy doing it, that all the players are held to the same standard. To me, that's where I have the issue.”
Burfict received the suspension after laying a hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle. His appeal of the suspension was upheld.
The veteran has racked up more than $4 million in fines and has been suspended 10 times due to the apparent headhunting on the field. The penalties came when he was with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Raiders signed Burfict to a one-year, $2 million contract in the offseason. It included a $300,000 signing bonus and $300,000 in guaranteed money, according to Spotrac.