Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season, this after committing a series of player-safety violations throughout the course of the year, including a vicious hit that concussed Antonio Brown in Saturday’s AFC Wild Card game.
Warren Moon was neither surprised nor upset by the league’s punishment.
“These are the types of messages you have to send to the players, and I don’t think it was just because of that one hit,” the Hall of Fame quarterback and Seahawks radio analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think it’s because of his history of these types of incidents throughout his career. Of course every time you do something, they’re going to pile on just a little bit more to send that message. Hopefully this message will be sent to him that you just can’t take those unnecessary shots.”
Burfict laid out Brown in the final minute of the Bengals’ 18-16 playoff loss. Ben Roethlisberger missed his star wideout on a throw over the middle, and Burfict, instead of letting up, plowed into Brown, whose head snapped lifelessly about.
“I don’t think it was a dirty hit in the fact that he did use his shoulder,” Moon said, “but I think it was an unnecessary hit. He probably didn’t even have to take the hit on Antonio Brown, but he did and really could have hurt him seriously. We really don’t know how serious Antonio Brown is hurt. He is in (concussion) protocol. We just don’t know how severe it is.”
The Steelers play the Broncos in Denver this Sunday, with the winner advancing to the AFC Championship.
Moon, 59, grew up during a time in which football was more barbaric than it is today. Knowledge about brain injuries and player safety wasn’t as sophisticated – or as publicized – as it is now.
“As I started to play the game and got into the professional league, I saw where the game evolved,” said Moon, who played in the NFL from 1984 to 2000. “Guys got bigger, guys got stronger, guys got faster, and now I’m looking at it evolve to where it is right now. They just keep getting bigger, stronger and faster. I’m glad that the safety part of it is now going along with the way the game has changed as far as how the athlete has really improved. . . . It just wasn’t doing that back in the day when we were playing. It’s too bad that those things didn’t happen, and the thing that I’m most blessed about is that I survived all of that, that even though I did have six concussions and I had some injuries throughout my career, I’m still in pretty good health today. But I never know – and I think about this every day – when are those concussions maybe going to take their toll on my physical health? That’s something you worry about as a player because you’ve been involved in that in the past.”
Burfict, who was also fined $50,000 for a cheap shot on Ravens tight end Maxx Williams in Week 17, has three days to appeal his suspension.