Arena: Burfict penalty shows NFL hypocricy

Published 11:45 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

From the files marked “LOL-NFL”: Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was caught in the act, on camera, attempting to injure at least two of Carolina’s three best offensive players Sunday, wrenching the ankle of Cam Newton and landing a forearm to the head of Kelvin Benjamin. The third super productive Panther, Greg Olsen, accused Burfict — who suffered a concussion himself during the game — of attempting to injure him too.

We learned during Bountygate exactly how seriously the NFL takes these supposedly intentional attempts to injure other players, so it was no surprise when Burfict was suspended without pay for eight weeks and not allowed contact with anyone in football.

Oh. What’s that you say?

Yeah, no suspension for Burfict, but he got a stiff $25,000 fine, AKA $5K less than Jimmy Graham suffered for defying the league with two preseason goalpost dunks. The concussion lawsuit threat has died down with the league’s recent settlement with ex-players, and now all of a sudden we’re not hearing so much about player safety and, in fact, concussed players are returning to action within a week. Washington’s Niles Paul would almost certainly have missed multiple weeks of action after his Thursday night concussion in Week 4; instead, he missed about 10 days, returning for his team’s Monday nighter against the Seahawks.

Note, Paul, a converted wide receiver who now plays tight end, caught one ball for six yards and spent more time blocking at the line than ever. His team was clearly confident he was safe and sound in the head injury department, right?

Of course, from the “Hurray-NFL” file, there’s this: that was a seriously clutch Sunday of football. From the Cam Newton/Andy Dalton shootout that ended in a tie, to Aaron Rodgers reminding everyone he’s the league’s best quarterback (yeah, Manning-backers, I said it!) to Tom Brady’s resurgence to the Raiders nearly shocking the world with an upset of surging San Diego … and that Cowboys/Seahawks game was pretty sweet, too.

From the River Region file: my column runs on Saturdays during the prep football season, so this commentary comes a bit late … but that John Curtis at St. Charles Catholic football game was a real classic. It had all the markings of a true David vs. Goliath matchup. The powerful favorite ripping off big play after big play and taking what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, easily. The underdog scrapping, taking short gain after short gain, fighting tooth and nail down the field to finally answer. A big defensive play or stop to give the offense a chance, and we had a game of Curtis’ explosiveness vs. SCC’s dogged determination.

Some Comets hung their heads after that 27-21 loss and it’s understandable. You’re so close to an incredible victory, and it leads to second-guessing and disappointment. But I, for one, left that game extremely impressed. Quarterback Austin Weber was a warrior. Receiver Brady Becker chased a two-interception game on defense two weeks ago with a two-touchdown performance against the Patriots.

The Comet offensive line gave SCC’s backs creases to convert third and fourth downs time and time again. And the Comet defense shook off an early punch-in-the-mouth to hold Curtis down, making a comeback possible.

Since the opening Thursday night of the season and a wild West St. John/St. James contest that went to the wire, I’ve seen blowout after blowout: the cumulative score of games I’d seen on Friday night from Weeks 1 to 5 was 229-62.

It was worth the wait.