Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinnati Bengals has been suspended without pay by the NFL for the first three games of the 2016 regular season for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules.
Burfict’s most recent violation came with 22 seconds remaining in last Saturday’s nationally televised playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness for using his shoulder to make forcible contact to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver.
The suspension was imposed by NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks, who ruled that Burfict’s action placed his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided. The suspension will take effect at the time of the final roster reduction prior to Week 1 of the 2016 regular-season.
Burfict has previously been fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting an opponent who was out of the play in Cincinnati’s Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the appeals officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.