Long before his season-ending suspension was handed down during the 2019 NFL season, Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was known as somewhat of a reckless player.
After all, this is a man who had “Evil Empire” written on his backplate during a state championship game in high school.
Burfict racked up a reported 22 personal foul penalties in 37 games at Arizona State, even leading his head coach at the time, former 49ers head coach Dennis Erickson, to bench him in the first quarter of a game during Burfict’s junior season.
The concerns followed the linebacker throughout college and were a significant part of why he ended up going undrafted in 2012 before signing with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent.
“He’s going to get in trouble because he cannot sublimate his own selfish desires below the good of the team,” an NFC area scout told The Athletic’s Bob McGinn in April 2012. “Somebody’s going to take him based on talent. I wouldn’t touch this guy.”
The pattern of violent and aggressive tackling continued in the professional ranks, as Burfict lost himself a staggering amount of money due to a myriad of fines and suspensions, including the aforementioned 12-game suspension in 2019.
— Spotrac (@spotrac) September 30, 2019
“He won’t be on our draft board,” an NFC national scout told McGinn. “He’s a turd.”
Hindsight is 20/20, but Paul Guenther, who had also coached Burfict in Cincinnati, had a pretty good idea of what he was getting himself into when he endorsed the Raiders signing the infamous linebacker.
It isn’t yet known if Burfict will return to the Raiders in 2020, but it’s hard to imagine another team giving him a chance after yet another suspension.