ALAMEDA – Raiders middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is currently serving a 12-game suspension for an illegal hit in a Week 4 victory over Indianapolis.
It was essentially a ban for the rest of the 2019 season, an unprecedented ban for an on-field act due more for his history and reputation for vicious and unnecessary hits as the hit against Colts tight end Jack Doyle itself.
Burfict appealed that decision in a Tuesday teleconference that including Burfict, his camp and representatives from the league and the NFL Players Association.
A decision will come from an independent arbitrator, though there’s no exact timetable for a formal ruling on the appeal.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden address the matter on Tuesday, and said the Silver and Black got a chance to support Burfict’s appeal. They consider the ban excessive, and believe Burfict has a chance to return to the team.
“Yes. We have tried to do that. We have tried to make our case,” Gruden said in his weekly press conference. “I respect the league’s position. They have a tough job. At the same time, we have a lot of confidence that they’ll do what’s right. We want Burfict back. He has already been punished, and we hope he can return to playing soon.”
The Raiders have already played one game without Burfict. They beat Chicago 24-21 on Sunday in London, and received quality contributions from Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow playing on the weak side and in the middle, respectively.
“You have to give Nick Morrow and Tahir Whitehead a lot of credit,” Gruden said. “They played great. That doesn’t take away from the fact that we miss Vontaze and his leadership, experience and playmaking ability. Nick and Tahir didn’t come off the field. Morrow had an interception and Whitehead did a great job running the show. Those guys deserve credit.”
The team is razor-thin at that spot, so Whitehead and Morrow were the only linebackers to play a defensive snap in this game. The Raiders used extra defensive backs in the run game, which was effective all night against the Bears.