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Paul Guenther: Vontaze Burfict “way smarter” than he gets credit for

Tennessee Titans v Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals walks around the field during warm ups prior to the start of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Paul Brown Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Burfict is not playing due to injury. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict will sit out the first three games of the 2016 season while serving a suspension for repeated violations of the league’s player safety rules, but that hasn’t soured the team on the linebacker.

Despite the damage done by penalties for those violations, director of player personnel Duke Tobin said that the Bengals don’t want Burfict to change his “passionate” approach to the game and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther says that he’d like to have Burfict teaching other players how to play once the linebacker retires.

“I’ve said it before, and I want it to be said now, because of where he’s at, when he’s done playing I am going to hire him as a coach, if I’m still coaching,” Guenther said, via the Cincinnati Enquirer. “When he leaves football he’s got a job. I’m going to hire him, because he is way smarter than everyone gives him credit for. Everyone thinks he’s this thug. He is smart. He’ll come into meetings on Wednesdays and say they’re doing this, they’re doing that. He gets it like that. He is smart.”

Guenther said that “the way [Burfict’s] being perceived right now is terrible,” although it’s hard to see where things have gone askew on that front. Burfict has been a very good football player since arriving in Cincinnati, but he’s also been one with a penchant for crossing the line. Burfict admitted the latter has to change and any perception of him will remain the same until he does.