Vontaze Burfict and NFL “Politics”

The NFL has its own brand of politics — and it does not involve Colin Kaepernick or anyone like that.

Vontaze Burfict's conduct, both on the field (an endless litany of dirty hits, plus a bird-flipping to the fans) and off (a four-game PED suspension), has been anything but perfect — and the 15th time proved to be a charm of sorts for the former Bengals and current Raiders linebacker, who has been suspended for the remainder of the season, pursuant to his near-decapitation of Colts tight end Jack Doyle in Oakland's Week 4 upset of the Colts at Indianapolis, which "improved" the Silver and Black's record on artificial turf to 3-31 dating all the way back to 2003.

So now Burfict finds himself on the business end of a piling on — catching it from all sides, from Jon Runyan, the NFL's vice president of football operations and no shrinking violet himself during his own playing career, who officially meted out the suspension, to Patriots tight end Ben Watson, one of Burfict's past victims, whose reaction to the suspension was "better late than never," to former offensive lineman Ross Tucker, whose six-year NFL career included stops in five different ports of call, who told Jim Rome that "if anything the NFLPA should be pushing for him to be banned for life" — a sentiment echoed by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports.

Technically, the NFLPA is obligated to appeal Burfict's suspension. But what if they listen to Tucker and Wetzel and throw Burfict under the bus — and by that I don't mean Jerome Bettis?

Cynics and conspiracy theorists would claim that if the union did this, it would be with one cold eye toward wringing an extra concession or two from the owners in the upcoming collective agreement. We all know what the owners want — the 18-game schedule — but what the union wants in return, beyond the obvious shortening of the preseason by two games, a second bye week for each team, and a 12.5% across-the-board salary increase for all players — is not entirely clear. Getting rid of offseason OTAs perhaps — which the NFL did just fine without for decades? Guaranteed contracts for players — an issue first brought to light by Terrell Owens 14 years ago?

It's beyond blasphemous to conflate Vontaze Burfict with Jesus, even in jest. But remember that Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, argued that Jesus must be killed for the good of the nation (of Israel, even though Israel was under Roman rule at the time).

Yet it is definitely not blasphemous to conflate the NFLPA with Caiaphas, or even Judas, if they take Tucker and Wetzel's advice — and more to the point, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't do it.

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