Raiders' Paul Guenther calls Vontaze Burfict suspension 'witch hunt'

Raiders' Paul Guenther calls Vontaze Burfict suspension 'witch hunt'

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders were seething over Vontaze Burfict’s season-long suspension over his illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, yet confident the unprecedented punishment for an on-field act would lessen upon appeal.

Jon Gruden and Derek Carr spoke on Burfict’s behalf. The middle linebacker himself pleaded for leniency on a suspension that was more about past acts and a dirty reputation than the hit itself. Such logic fell on deaf ears, and independent arbitrator Derrick Brooks upheld the original suspension.

Gruden bit his tongue when asked about on Wednesday, only saying he was upset over the decision.

Paul Guenther did not take the same tact.

The Raiders defensive coordinator, who has known and worked with Burfict for years in Cincinnati and helped the linebacker establish himself in the NFL, voiced his displeasure in no uncertain terms.

“It was a witch hunt from the beginning, quite honestly. Somebody from the league didn’t want him playing, and they got what they wanted. The Raiders are going to keep a close eye, and make sure everyone is being held to the same standard that Vontaze was. We had no idea that this guy – does it make any sense to sign a guy where, after one infraction, he’s going to get thrown out of the league for the year? No, it doesn’t.

“I think it’s unfair. I think it’s unfair to our team. It’s unfair to Vontaze. But we have resilient guys, and they’re going to fill in for him and they’re going to play for him.”

Guenther said the Raiders did not know another infraction for an illegal hit would end Burfict’s season. They never would’ve made him such a vital part of their defense had that been the case. At the very least, they would’ve added a durable safety net underneath him.

“Nobody knew that the next time he dropped the helmet a little bit and hit a guy that he was going to be done for the year. Absolutely not,” Guenther said. “To sign a guy like that and know that was going to happen makes no sense.”

Guenther took umbrage with the fact that, unlike penalties for violating policies on personal conduct, performance-enhancing drugs or substances of abuse, there’s no clear line of punishment laid out in writing for all to see and follow. That’s another reason why the Raiders feel Burfict’s suspension was excessive and clearly targeted at one specific individual.

“There’s no standard. That’s the issue I have,” Guenther said. “There’s no [protocol] that says, the next time you do this, you’re done for the year and maybe your career. I think it’s unfair. You can warn a guy, but you should put in writing that the next time this happens, you’re done. That’s where I have a problem. It’s unfair to the kid. It’s unfair to all the players around the league to not know what will happen. You give this guy a whole year suspension? I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think that’s fair at all.

“Now they’ve opened up a whole can of worms for the next guy that does this. We have to make sure that if we’re going to do this to this one guy for going 38 mph in a 35-mph zone with 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.”

[RELATED: Gruden still not happy with Burfict's suspension]

Guenther is close to Burfict and was asked how the veteran linebacker is dealing with this massive setback and prolonged suspension without pay. In short: not well.

“How would you do deal with it if you basically got your career taken away like that, and not really know that was going to happen?” Guenther said. “He may never play football again. That’s a tough thing. He’s 28 years old, and all of a sudden, it’s done. Now that they know with the next infraction you’re done for the year, that’s a tough pill to swallow without knowing that was going to be the consequence. To me, that’s not right.”

Watch Derek Carr hit Tyrell Williams for TD to open Oakland Coliseum finale

Watch Derek Carr hit Tyrell Williams for TD to open Oakland Coliseum finale

OAKLAND -- Expect anything different?

With the Raiders officially saying goodbye to Oakland on Sunday against the Jaguars, it's no surprise the Silver and Black came out like a house of fire. 

The Raiders took the opening kick-off and went 75 yards, culminating in a 40-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Tyrell Williams to set off a powder keg at the Coliseum. 

You couldn't script a better opening drive. 

[RELATED: Carr has special bond with Coliseum, Oakland]

The Jags answered with a field goal on their opening drive to cut the lead to 7-3. 

The Raiders enter the game on a three-game losing streak that has seen them plummet out of playoff contention. But a win Sunday would get them back to .500 and give those who have bled silver and black for generations the perfect farewell.

Raiders inactives: Josh Jacobs in, Trent Brown out for Oakland finale

Raiders inactives: Josh Jacobs in, Trent Brown out for Oakland finale

The Raiders received a huge boost before their final game at the Oakland Coliseum. 

Rookie running back Josh Jacobs officially is active for Sunday's contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacobs missed last Sunday's loss vs. the Tennessee Titans with a shoulder ailment, despite giving a spirited plea to play

Jacobs, the No. 24 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has been a star as a rookie this season. He became the first rookie in Raiders history to rush for at least 1,000 yards, and is up to 1,061 on 218 carries. The 21-year-old is averaging 4.9 yards per carry, 88.4 yards rushing per game and has scored seven touchdowns. 

Jacksonville could be the perfect team for Jacobs to return against, too. The Jaguars are allowing an average of 141.1 rushing yards per game this season, the second-most in the NFL. 

But the Raiders' offensive line will be missing a key piece Sunday. Offensive tackle Trent Brown officially has been ruled out for a second straight week as he deals with a right pectoral injury. 

[RELATED: Raiders heavily favored in finale at Oakland Coliseum]

Below is the complete list of Raiders and Jaguars' inactives.