Le’Veon Bell says he’s got to go. As it turns out, he’s going nowhere.
The NFL has decided not to suspend Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict for kicking the head of Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix, via Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com.
The decision seems a bit unusual, given that the NFL supposedly adheres to a system of progressive discipline in matters of this nature. The idea is that, with each additional violation, the punishment increases until the behavior changes.
Burfict served a three-game suspension last year for an illegal hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 playoffs, and Burfict served a three-game suspension this year (reduced from five) for an illegal hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason.
The fact that Nix wasn’t injured by the maneuver may have contributed to the outcome, but that really shouldn’t be the case. Inherently gratuitous and unsafe acts are inherently gratuitous and unsafe regardless of whether they inflict injury, and a kick to the head is a kick to the head, period.
Apparently, it’s not. And that makes it only harder to understand why the league does what it does when it does, when it comes to conduct that violates the rules and jeopardizes player safety.