Raiders’ Derek Carr Defends Vontaze Burfict

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Derek Carr
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is coming to the defense of his teammate, suspended linebacker Vontaze Burfict who is sidelined for the rest of the season, without pay, for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Jack Doyle during Sunday’s game.

“I don’t think he was trying to hurt that man; the man was going down,” Carr said of the hit, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, adding that Burfict was a friend, one of his favorite teammates, and “one of the most misunderstood people in the NFL”

“We see other people choking people out, and they’re going to play this Sunday” Carr continued.

“We see other people hitting people in the helmet, and they’re going to play this Sunday. And Vontaze Burfict won’t play the rest of the year? I think that’s a little excessive, if you ask me. I don’t think it’s fair, if we really got to know the guy. If the people making the decision really knew the guy that we know, inside our building … he’s a great person, his heart is broken because he’s not playing football. The guy just wants to play football. We don’t get a lot of time to play this game in our lives.”

Carr made reference to a pair of incidents that occurred during Week 4 action, such as the fight between Cleveland Browns superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and also New England Patriots’ cornerback Jonathan Jones’ helmet-to-helmet hit on Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, a hit that forced Allen out of the game with a concussion.

“I know the history situation and all that kind of stuff,” Carr said of Burfict, “but this one, especially with what went on during the week, if we’re going to be fair, we need to be fair with everybody.”

Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden spoke emotionally about his feelings, taking aim specifically at NFL Vice President of Operations Jon Runyan.

“He knows how I feel — it hurts our team really bad,” Gruden said. “And I’m anxious to see what the appeal says. I’m not happy about it. At all. And I don’t want to say anything else about it. I’m obviously upset about it.”

Burfict was suspended without pay on Monday for “repeated violations of the unnecessary roughness rules” after lowering his head to initiate contact, and according to Burfict’s agent, will appeal the suspension, saying the “12-game suspension is excessive and the play that triggered the suspension was a football play.”

Burfict’s agent said that the hearing will “most likely be next Tuesday.”

Burfict, who has led the NFL with 23 personal fouls and 15 flags for unnecessary roughness since entering the league in 2012, so his history is clear as day, and something that the league has taken into consideration.

“There were no mitigating circumstances on this play,” Runyan wrote to Burfict, explaining the suspension. “Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game.”

“Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures,” Runyan wrote. “However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk. “Your extensive history of rules violations is factored into this decision regarding accountability measures.”

This story is far from over.

 

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