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Bengals thought NFL would issue warning to Vince Williams for Burfict threat

Vince Williams, Ryan Shazier


The actions that preceded Sunday’s Steelers-Bengals game were sparked by the inaction of the league office regarding the threat made by Pittsburgh linebacker Vince Williams against Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

So why didn’t the league take action against Williams for threatening, essentially, to kill Burfict?

At this point, no one knows. The NFL has not responded to emails from PFT regarding both the fight and the decision not to discipline Williams.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Bengals believed that the NFL at a minimum would issue a warning to Williams. Ultimately, nothing happened. Which made Burfict upset and caused him to take matters into his own hands on Sunday.

The intersection between discipline and P.R. continues to be the likely explanation for the league’s decision to do nothing. By looking the other way, the NFL kept what was a non-story (on the national level) from becoming a much bigger deal.

Indeed, if the NFL had issued a formal warning to an NFL player for making a death threat against another NFL player, the headlines in mainstream news outlets would have been blaring, and the morning shows and evening news broadcasts would have been devoting real estate to it.

It’s hardly the first time the NFL or any other P.R.-sensitive organization opted to ignore a problem that had yet to be flagged by the world at large in order to keep that problem from becoming a much bigger problem. The NFL now faces a separate problem: How does it address the Steelers-Bengals fight without belatedly addressing the threats made against Burfict?