Not much has gone right for the Cincinnati Bengals this season, at least not after getting out to a 4-1 start and looking as though they would be turning things around after hitting the skids for a couple of years. They got off to that early record largely without one of their key defensive players, captain Vontaze Burfict, who served a suspension.
But from the time that he played the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Six and suffered a shoulder injury until now, he hasn’t spent a whole lot of time on the field. When he has played, he has been in and out of the lineup. He has had that shoulder injury, but he has also dealt with concussions.
The linebacker suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday, and reportedly his seventh of his career. According to Katherine Terrell of ESPN, this may put the future of his playing career in jeopardy.
Those are only the seven we know about as well. I always wonder how many players have concussions that don’t end up in protocol. https://t.co/m4YrCMfM0G
— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) December 27, 2018
Now, before you all go celebrating, let me remind you that being a bad person doesn’t necessarily mean that you deserve to suffer potentially debilitating neurological damage for the rest of your life. I’m no fan of Burfict as a human being from what he has put on display, but it would be a shame if his career has to end because of concussions.
It should end because he doesn’t deserve to play based on his conduct on the field, which should get him barred from the league. That would be the fitting end of his career, and what he deserves. I read the comments whenever I write about Burfict and his health and I see a lot of ‘couldn’t have happened to a better guy’-style remarks.
Generally, it is what it is, but concussions are a different breed of conversation for me. And I think the regular readers of this site would be well aware of that by now. It’s a shame that anybody would have to stop playing a game that they love for health reasons—or that they would ever have to do anything that they love because they simply can’t physically or can’t afford the risk.
Burfict is a talented football player, though he hasn’t been as successful on the field in the past two seasons, and especially this year. There was a time that he was legitimately a Pro Bowler and someone who, if he could actually keep himself in line, you would love to have on your own team.
But he is who he is and has never given any indication that he has the ability, let alone the willingness, to change. So while I certainly wouldn’t miss seeing him on the field, I would still wish him the best with respect to his mental health. Let’s remember that CTE can produce severe mood swings that could result in violent rage.