Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s appeal to overturn his suspension for the rest of the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit was denied Wednesday.
Appeals officer Derrick Brooks ruled he would not reduce the longest suspension ever handed down for an on-field infraction. Brooks is appointed jointly by the NFL and the NFLPA and heard Burfict’s appeal of the ban for the final 12 games of the regular season and the playoffs.
Brooks upheld the decision handed down last week by NFL Vice President of football operations Jon Runyan to punish Burfict severely for “repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules” after the latest hit on Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle on Sept. 29. It was the third time Burfict has been suspended for a dangerous hit on the field to go along with several others that led to fines.
The suspension is without pay, costing Burfict more than $1.1 million in salary and per game active roster bonuses.
Burfict had one suspension reduced from five games to three games in 2017 but was unable to get a reduction again after a hearing that included testimony from Burfict and members of the Raiders, including coach Jon Gruden. His punishment is by far the biggest for an on-field play, topping the five games Tennessee’s Albert Haynesworth got in 2006 for kicking and stomping on Cowboys center Andre Gurode’s face, leading to 30 stitches.
“We’re going to try to make our case,” Gruden said Tuesday before testifying on Burfict’s behalf. “I respect the league’s position. They have a tough job. At the same time we have a lot of confidence that they’ll do what’s right. We want Burfict back. He’s already been punished. We hope he can return to playing soon.”
Now the Raiders (3-2) must go on with the rest of the season without one of their defensive captains and the signal caller of their defense.