In today’s news bulletins you may have never expected to read, Cincinnati Bengals inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict is trying to do his part to reach out to children who are the victims of bullying. A bit of a bully himself when on the football field, Burfict would not necessarily seem to be the most logical choice for this role.
Not that the veteran linebacker would agree with that description. “I wouldn’t even use that word”, he told reporters during OTAs recently. “I would just say he plays aggressively. I don’t think bullying is even in my DNA. I grew up where there were no bullies in my high school or elementary. I was actually one of the cool kids. There was one time I was walking home from school and I saw a kid getting beat up and I actually stopped it”.
He said that the bullies tried to fight him after he attempted to intervene. “I just told them, ‘I’m not here for that. I came to help this kid because it looked unfair’. I don’t enjoy seeing bullies or anybody getting bullied. It just kind of touched my heart”, he said in observing a rash of headlines about bullying incidents.
“I feel like there are a lot of kids that get bullied and they aren’t sure how to respond to when they’re getting bullied, he said. “I just want to go talk to a couple of schools, even in different states to try to figure out how to prevent from getting bullied and what to do if you are getting bullied”.
All the cognitive dissonance set aside, it’s good to hear Burfict wanting to take this sort of initiative, and he certainly is not the first athlete, or NFL player, to have attempted to take a stand and say something about bullying.
I’m not going to go ahead and drown out the sentiment with accusations of hypocrisy because of the way that he conducts himself on and around the football field. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to comment on Burfict the football player, but here he is Burfict the good Samaritan.
And I would like to think that anybody can support the good Samaritan while serving in the role of the good Samaritan. It’s a nice and seemingly genuine gesture on his part that should be noted and given praise. I can’t imagine he would believe he can revamp his image overnight just by saying that bullying is wrong.
With that said, I certainly would not object if Burfict somehow used this moment of clarity to have an epiphany about the way that he has conducted himself in the past, although I will say that, so far this offseason, he has largely said the right things, now in the role of the veteran leader and a team captain. He’ll have to show it on the field, however.