Chiefs cautiously respect Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict
Despite Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s track record of borderline dirty hits, including one against a current Chiefs player, both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill said they had no problem with Burfict’s playing style ... even though they could be potential targets this weekend.
“You’ve got to be aware on the football field at all times,” Kelce said on Friday. “I mean, it’s grown men with pads and a reckless abandon. I don’t think this week is any different. I know five-five (Burfict) personally: I don’t think he’s out for anybody right now. I think it’s just the way he plays the game. You know what I mean, either you’ve got a guy like that on your team or you don’t.”
Burfict’s latest newsmaking misadventure on the field came this past week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 6-foot-1, 255-pound linebacker threw a forearm at the head of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and allegedly pointed to receiver Juju Smith-Schuster and said he was “next.”
Burfict was not penalized on the play, but members of the Steelers were outspoken after the game about the NFL needing to do something about Burfict’s tactics. Burfict has a history with the Steelers, in particular, that includes having knocked Brown out of a playoff game as well as Burfict being knocked out of a game by an illegal crackback block by Smith-Schuster, after which Smith-Schuster stood over Burfict.
Burfict’s track record extends much further than that, too. It includes a three-game suspension (reduced from five upon appeal) at the start of last season for a hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman while Sherman was running a pass route out of the backfield in the preseason.
Burfict has racked up more than $4 million in fines and forfeited pay due to multiple suspensions in his seven NFL seasons.
“He’s like any other guy that I’ve played against,” Kelce said. “It’s always been a respect type of thing. I’ve seen him off the field, on the field, and he seems as personable as anybody else. He doesn’t seem like he’s got hate out here for somebody else. I think he’s just a very physical football player.”
When asked earlier in the week about Burfict, Chiefs coach Andy Reid declined to comment on him specifically. But Hill, the Chiefs’ leading receiver who is listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, is a fan of Burfict.
“I love him as a player,” Hill said. “I feel like if I was a D-coordinator and I had to choose like any linebacker in the NFL, I would definitely choose him because he’s definitely that hard-nosed solid tackler just dirty and grimy linebacker that I like.”
Hill, who said he had seen the replay of Burfict’s hit on Brown, acknowledged that Burfict crosses the line at times. But he still remains a fan of Burfict’s aggressive playing style.
“I ain’t gonna lie man, some of the stuff he does is like kind of over the border, but I feel like as a player I like him as a player,” Hill said.