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Burfict says he’s “misunderstood”

Vontaze Burfict, Randy Wright

Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, right, sets his sights on UC Davis quarterback Randy Wright as he closes in for a sack during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011 in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)


Until Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can find a way to finagle cameras into the player-team interview sessions, we’ll have to settle for the things a player says at the Scouting Combine when meeting with the media.

Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict had his chance to talk on Sunday.

He has been sliding on draft boards due to concerns regarding an ability to properly harness his fiery on-field demeanor. Naturally, Burfict said that he’s “misunderstood.”

Part of the misunderstanding comes from a fight with a teammate. Burfict was asked to explain what happened.

“It started in 7-on-7 and he ran a route and hit me, and we’re not supposed to hit each other in 7-on-7,” Burfict said. “We had an argument, and we brought it into the locker room. We started chattering about it, he started roughhousing me, he pushed me and my first instinct was to swing, and everyone thinks I’m the bad guy because my first instinct was to swing on the guy.”

Of course, the mere fact that his “first instinct was to swing on the guy” may have something to do with that perception.

Burfict claims he’s the best linebacker in the draft, while he concedes he played “average” in 2011. So what makes him the best linebacker?

“My instincts, my nose for the ball, my study habits in the film room. I am a leader on and off the field,
and my aggression to win and my passion for the game,” Burfict said.

Burfict’s session broke from his trend of not talking to the media, explaining that he has stopped doing interviews because “people were putting words in my mouth and putting me as a bad guy.”

But his actions, not his words, have fueled that reputation. Burfict has been flagged for numerous personal fouls, even though he said on Sunday that he believes he’s a “marked man” in the eyes of the officials.

He’s now a marked man in the eyes of the scouts. And since the interview sessions with teams aren’t televised (yet), we’ll have to wait a couple months to find out whether he has managed to change anyone’s mind about him.