Vontaze Burfict and CTE

Written By Mason Strawn, For The Globe

If you’ve watched the Pittsburgh Steelers play within the last five years, then you know that the two most hated athletes in this city are Tom Brady and Vontaze Burfict. For those that don’t watch the NFL, Burfict is the reason why the Steelers only have six Super Bowls instead of seven. 

He’s also the reason why Antonio Brown has gone absolutely bonkers and is also known as the dirtiest player in the entire league. He practically gives out Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) to other players like it’s candy, and I hope his latest action will get him to stop permanently. 

Burfict recently was suspended for the rest of the 2019-2020 season after delivering another one of his signature dirty helmet-to-helmet hits that easily concussed Indianapolis tight end Jack Doyle. After the game, commissioner Roger Goddell finally said enough is enough, and suspended him without pay for 12 weeks, the longest suspension given out in NFL history that didn’t have to do with cheating or steroids. 

Burfict has lost almost $8 million dollars over the last 5 years of his career due to dirty tackles and other antics, including his infamous knockout tackle of Antonio Brown that severely concussed the former Steelers Wide Receiver, and many blame Burfict for AB’s recent behavior and craziness due to that hit in 2017. But even with Burfict’s suspension, there’s something else entirely that the NFL is avoiding. Concussions and CTE in their athletes. 

It’s no secret the NFL has never been good about its injuries and concussions. Several athletes have been cleared to play with massive concussions and other major injuries, while its concussion protocol is one of the most complex yet ineffective in all of sports. One day a player is placed on the injured reserve list, the next, the player is cleared to practice and play in the next game on the team’s schedule. 

In recent years, doctors and scientists have come to discover CTE; causing athletes that have suffered concussions to have rapid degenerative disease in their brains. The NFL barely pays any attention to the disease, even though it’s been found in hundreds of former athletes that had once played football at a college or professional level. 

A huge example of this is of former Patriots tight end and also former convict Aaron Hernandez, who killed himself in his cell after being convicted of homicide during his time in New England. Doctors were able to study and compare his brain to that of other athletes who suffered from the disease, and discovered they were very similar if not the same in their decay. 

The NFL’s system is flawed to say the least, and many blame the league for the actions of players like Aaron Hernandez and Jovan Belcher, a former Chiefs linebacker who shot his wife in 2012. 

The NFL needs to pay more attention to player’s mental health. It’s as simple as that. Teams, and the league itself, need to do more research and understand that concussions can be deadly if they continue to happen again and again. 

Players like Vontaze Burfict have no place in the NFL anymore; players that are headhunters claim that they are simply “playing the game the right way.” I didn’t know the right way to play football involved taking another player’s knees out to tear his ACL, or aiming to take someone’s head off like a medieval executioner.