I wouldn’t exactly say that the Cincinnati Bengals have had the greatest past six months or so. Aside from riding out the tide of their first losing season in half a decade, they have also come under a firestorm of criticism for their continued complicity in the discouraging off-field behavior of their current players, and new players they have since brought into the fold.
The most recent cavalcade began with the arrest of veteran cornerback Adam Jones, an incident from which he is still ultimately facing charges. It took a few months, but Bengals owner Mike Brown ultimately went to bat for him after it seemed as though he could be facing a release.
It ended…should it ever end…as it began, once again with another incident from Jones, who was struck by a teenage driver while out in his Rolls Royce. He berated the teen in a profanity-laden rant that he posted to social media, alluding to his anger management courses for the reason that he didn’t assault the driver at fault.
In between all that was the drafting of running back Joe Mixon, who assaulted a woman a few years ago, and last year was involved in an incident with a parking attendant in which he inched his vehicle toward her in an effort to intimidate her after receiving a ticket that he tore up and threw in her face.
Into this climate re-emerges Vontaze Burfict as a team captain, which is actually a role that he already held a few years ago in 2014. After a couple of injury-riddled and suspension-reduced seasons, and following the departure of notable standouts such as Domata Peko and Ray Maualuga, his teammates once again promoted Burfict to the role of captain.
Burfict, a sixth-year veteran, has cost himself roughly $275,000 in cash over the course of his career stemming from something like 17 personal foul penalties. This does not include the lost game checks that he accrued during his three-game suspension due to his on-field conduct to start the 2016 season.
And this is the man who will be once again leading the Bengals’ young players, this time as one of the veterans himself. Though, if you actually look at that defense, and consider what Burfict does for that team on the field and in the locker room, it really is the sensible choice, as he actually is a leader and a talented football player.
It’s a role that he embraces, especially when it comes to educating the young players. “I’ll have talks with them and make sure they understand what to do to stay in here and what to do if not this team, maybe make another team”, he told reporters recently about his role.
“Just tell them my personal journey”, said the former undrafted free agent, “so they don’t make the same mistakes I did. Just understand how to be a professional athlete”.