If there was any hope that someone within the Cincinnati Bengals organization would do something about the behavior of Vontaze Burfict, the comments of team owner Mike Brown over the weekend quickly ended that fantasy. Rather than acknowledge the despicable actions of his linebacker for what they are, the out-of-touch owner once again defended his player in the face of overwhelmingly damning evidence to the contrary.
As reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk per a league source:
“Bengals owner Mike Brown expressed to the league office in very specific and pointed terms his strenuous objection to the decision to punish Burfict in any way for lowering his helmet to hit Steelers running back James Conner and for putting a forearm in the helmet of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown.”
Calling the fine “unfair and excessive”, Brown apparently accused the NFL of incorrectly punishing his player for actions that did not draw a flag in the game, even though this is a common occurrence when it comes to the issuing of fines.
Considering Brown is the man who defended the drafting of Joe Mixon after he had punched a young woman in the head that was captured on video, supported Chris Henry through multiple off-field incidents that led to his suspension and was happy to see problem cornerback Adam Pacman Jones made a team captain despite several troubling acts, it's obvious he's prepared to overlook all kinds of questionable behavior that the rest of normal society outside of Cincinnati deems unacceptable.
Bengals’ fans have actually started a Gofundme page to help play Burfict’s fine and more than 24 hours after the collection had been started, a whole $5 had been raised.
Brown’s complaints weren't limited to his own team and it turns out the Bengals' owner also has a problem with player safety. Presumably in defense of Burfict’s headhunting style of play, it seems Brown would like to see more players get injured.
“He [Brown] has a significant disagreement with the league office on making the game safer, and that he believes the league’s current approach hurts the game and makes it less attractive to fans.”
At the time of this writing, neitherBurfict nor Marvin Lewis have spoken publicly about the $112,000 fine the linebacker received on Saturday, but it should be expected the player in question won't be taking responsibility for his actions anytime soon. His coach will downplay any criticism by characterizing Burfict as the true victim -- someone who unfairly faces extra scrutiny from the NFL just because he's been involved in a mere 11 previous incidents for violent play. The enabling will continue and, next time, someone will probably get seriously hurt.