Vontaze Burfict has been out of the NFL news cycle for a while, which is typically what happens when a player is suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season. Burfict was suspended a total of 12 games after an illegal hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, one where the Raiders linebacker used his helmet to take out the Colts tight end (who was already on one knee).
A free agent this offseason, Burfict plans to continue playing in the NFL despite his checkered past. He tried to change his style of play last offseason, but the Doyle hit occurred and forced Burfict to change his approach to the game.
"I'm a tone-setter. But I can also be a vocal leader, and that's what I was trying to do before I got suspended. Trying to switch up my image and the way I play, the way people (perceive) me," Burfict told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. "Then, it gets old, when you go out there and some fans think that I'm just out to hurt people. That's not the case."
Burfict was suspended multiple times for hits in his career, as the Doyle hit clearly wasn't the first offense. He was suspended four games in 2017 for an illegal hit on fullback Anthony Sherman and four games the year prior for an illegal hit on wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Burfict has also reportedly spent the offseason "watching tape, talking to coaches, league executives, (and) other experts about the proper code of conduct to stay in the league." He's serious about making sure his NFL career remains intact.
"Vontaze has spent the entire offseason studying and learning the proper code of conduct for participation in the NFL," Burfict's agent, Peter Schaffer,. "He has watched tape, talked with coaches and NFL experts doing everything he can to conform his passionate play to the rules of the NFL. This is a serious issue not only for Vontaze but all players and he is serious about doing things the right way and being a leader in playing football the right way."
Burfict is willing to change his game and repair his reputation. The 29-year old's NFL career is at stake, and he knows it.
"Obviously, I wasn't happy about the suspension, so I'm just trying to make sure it doesn't happen (again) and see what I can actually do to make sure I can fix it," Burfict said. "There is a way you can change, bro. There's a way you can change in making a sure tackle and just not letting him run you over.
"I think about how the world sees me. That bothers me. It bothers me a lot."