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Raiders captain Vontaze Burfict's season-long suspension upheld after appeal


Raiders captain Vontaze Burfict's season-long suspension upheld after appeal

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict will not return to the Raiders this season. His season-long suspension for an illegal hit on Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle will stand.

Appeals officer Derrick Brooks upheld the suspension following a Tuesday hearing challenging the unprecedented punishment for an on-field action. The NFL announced the news Wednesday.

Brooks is an independent arbitrator appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The former NFL defensive end played under Raiders head coach Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.

Burfict appealed for leniency in a Tuesday teleconference that included reps from the players union and the NFL. Gruden also spoke on Burfict’s behalf. So did quarterback Derek Carr.

Those pleas, and Burfict’s argument the punishment was excessive, fell on deaf ears. It didn’t change minds enough to even decrease the suspension, which will be extended throughout the 2019 season. That includes the postseason, should the Raiders qualify.

The Silver and Black will be upset by this decision. They were bothered he was suspended at all for the action, let alone a full season. They were also troubled to find out through the media that the NFL was considering this type of action, based more on Burfict’s reputation as a dirty player than the hit itself.

Gruden told the media Tuesday he was hopeful the Raiders would have Burfict back playing with them at some point this season.

“I respect the league’s position,” Gruden said in a Tuesday press conference. “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.”

He will not play for the Raiders again in 2019. There’s no telling if he’ll play for them again, though defensive coordinator Paul Guenther loves him and could bring him back in 2020. Burfict signed a one-year contract during the offseason, and was named a team captain entering the 2019 campaign.

The NFL did not issue a new statement after the suspension was upheld, only re-sending the statement that came with the original suspension on Sept. 30.

According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Burfict said during the appeal hearing that he was not trying to hurt Doyle, and that the tight end’s target zone was changing and that he was not trying to injure anyone. Burfict’s camp, per Anderson, also cited other vicious hits from that same week that didn’t result in a suspension.

[RELATED: How Gruden envisions Worley as 'hybrid' player]

Again, this has to do with reputation and past incidents as much as anything. Burfict has been suspended twice before for illegal hits and fined hefty sums on several occasions for such actions.

The Raiders find themselves precariously thin at linebacker, with Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow as their primary players at the position. Marquel Lee is on injured reserve, leaving Kyle Wilber and recent additions Dakota Allen and Justin Phillips in reserve. None of those backups have much defensive experience.

Colts' Frank Reich 'thankful' NFL suspended Raiders' Vontaze Burfict

Colts' Frank Reich 'thankful' NFL suspended Raiders' Vontaze Burfict

Colts coach Frank Reich and his tight end Jack Doyle have differing opinions on the illegal hit that had Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict ejected Sunday in Oakland's 31-24 win over Indianapolis. 

Doyle, who was on the other end of Burfict's helmet-to-helmet hit, didn't seem too fazed by the violent blow. 

“I just got tackled," Doyle said. "I’m sure it looked worse than it was. I didn’t really feel anything from it. My helmet protected me.”

But the NFL thought otherwise. Burfict was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season. He's on his way home from London now, his agent told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, and will appeal the suspension. 

Reich, however, seems happy with the league's decision. 

"Just thankful the league took action like it did," Reich told reporters Monday. "When someone does something like that, attacks one of your players, it's not supposed to be in the game. Glad they did what they did. Actions feel very appropriate."

[RELATED: Raiders must quickly adjust with Burfict suspended for year]

Burfict has been fined or suspended multiple times now for illegal hits. The NFL said in a statement that the eight-year pro's "extensive history of rules violations" played a part in their ruling. 

While a season-long suspension, which will be the final 12 regular-season games at least, seems tough but Burfict does have quite the rap sheet.

Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict suspended for 2019 NFL season over reckless hit

Raiders’ Vontaze Burfict suspended for 2019 NFL season over reckless hit

The Raiders will be without veteran linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the rest of 2019.

The NFL suspended Burfict for the remainder of the season without pay Monday, one day after he was ejected from the Raiders' 31-24 win over the Colts for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle.

Below is a statement from NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan on the decision. 

ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported Monday that Burfict was facing a season-long suspension.

The season-long suspension will be the 13th time the eight-year pro either has been fined or suspended, but NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Burfict plans to appeal his latest ban. 

Following yesterday's win over Indianapolis, Raiders coach Jon Gruden was upset about Burfict's ejection, especially because it was made by officials away from the field.

"I know [officials in] New York City pulled the ejection, so you’d have to ask New York -- whoever is in the room that made that decision," Gruden said. "I think it was penalized multiple times by multiple referees today. Nobody on the field in our stadium or in this zip code made the call to eject him. That came from New York City, so what can I do? I don't have a cell phone on the field."

You can bet that Gruden is even more upset now that his captain out for the rest of the season.

The Raiders' next game is Sunday against the Bears in London.