Vontaze Burfict has been flagged for personal foul penalties 16 times since entering the league in 2012 and has lost more than $200,000 due to fines for dirty hits. But now, after his vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown during an AFC Wild Card game, one which set up Pittsburgh’s game-winning field goal and sent the Bengals home, the Cincinnati linebacker says he wants to change his ways.
“I play hard. Sometimes it gets me in trouble,” Burfict said in an interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “My style of play is aggressive, and [the game has] changed, and I have to change with it.”
Burfict told Anderson that he tried to pull up before ramming into Brown, but that it was too late. He also added that he thought he received a penalty because of his reputation.
“That play right there, I think if I wasn’t number 55, I wouldn’t have got flagged,” he said.
Brown was diagnosed with a concussion later that week and was forced to miss the Steelers’ playoff game against the Broncos.
Burfict was suspended three games by the NFL for the hit on Brown, a penalty which will be applied at the beginning of the 2016 season. He also met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last month to discuss his on-field behavior.
“Like I told coach [Marvin Lewis], I wish I could take that play back because I probably would’ve hit him low,” Burfict said to ESPN. “I don’t like hitting low, but I have to change because it’s getting flags because I hit him high or hit him in the helmet, and it’s so hard to determine where to hit the offender because they’re gonna tuck their body, and you have to pretty much tuck with them.”
Burfict was fined nearly $70,000 dollars for three dirty hits, including a shot below Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s knees, during Pittsburgh and Cincinnati’s Dec. 13 matchup. He was also fined $50,000 in Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens, and $25,000 for twisting the ankles of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen in a December 2014 game against the Panthers.
Burfict, who was signed by the Bengals in 2012 after going undrafted out of Arizona State, recorded 74 tackles, one sack and picked off two passes in 10 games last season.
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