CINCINNATI (AP) The NFL has fined Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict $25,000 for his actions during a game against the Carolina Panthers, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.
Burfict received two personal foul penalties during a 37-37 tie on Sunday. He also angered the Panthers by twisting the ankles of quarterback Cam Newton and tight end Greg Olsen after they were tackled.
It wasn’t clear on Wednesday which plays prompted the league’s fine. The NFL doesn’t publicly announce fines until Friday. The person who informed the AP of the fine insisted on anonymity because the fine had not been made public.
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The Panthers had complained about Burfict twisting Newton’s surgically repaired left ankle after he scored on a touchdown run. The Pro Bowl linebacker also twisted Olsen’s left ankle after he caught a touchdown pass and was tackled.
Olsen had hoped that the league would suspend Burfict, who has a history of personal fouls.
”It’s not really my place to comment on the league policy,” Olsen said on Wednesday. ”They (decided) that was the punishment they thought was right and that’s the way it goes.”
Burfict has declined to talk to the media since the game on Sunday.
He drew eight personal fouls last season and was fined $21,000 for hitting Jets receiver Stephen Hill with the crown of his helmet, one of his most prominent over-the-top moments.
The Bengals have talked to him again this week about keeping his emotions under control.
”His greatest asset is his edge,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said after practice on Wednesday. ”And it’s infectious to the other guys. But he can’t cross the line and be overboard where you’re not playing within the rules.
”He’s got to understand that. There’s a certain set of rules. Everyone’s looking at him.”
Burfict was flagged for hitting Newton after he threw a pass and for unnecessary roughness when he hit receiver Kelvin Benjamin after a reception.
Bengals cornerback Adam ”Pacman” Jones was surprised that Burfict got fined so much.
”Vontaze plays with great emotion,” Jones said. ”I don’t think he should have been fined $25,000.”
”I think Vontaze will take that one on the chin and it can’t change the way he plays. We were talking about the penalties – I understand that – but you need to play aggressive and stay aggressive,” Jones said.
Burfict’s repeated personal fouls at Arizona State and a poor showing at the scouting combine prompted teams to pass on him in the 2012 draft. The Bengals signed him to a minimal-risk deal, and he quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s best linebackers under former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who is the Vikings head coach this season.
”I love Vontaze,” Zimmer said on Wednesday. ”He’s a good football player and a tough guy. I can’t comment on what he did. But I know he’s a good kid. At least around me, he was always a good kid.”
Burfict signed a three-year extension in August that will pay him a maximum of $20.05 million. He suffered concussions in the first two games of the season and missed the next two before returning against Carolina on Sunday.
Coach Marvin Lewis said on Wednesday that one of the two personal foul penalties against Burfict shouldn’t have been called, although he wouldn’t say which one he disputed.
”He just needs to play football,” Lewis said. ”That’s our message to everyone: Just play football and continue to play within the rules because the rules are what they are. We don’t need anything extra at any point any time from anyone.”
Asked if he’s concerned about Burfict’s health because of the concussions, Lewis said players are taking longer to return from head injuries because of media attention to the long-term effects.
”I coached defense and linebackers for a long time, and concussions didn’t linger,” Lewis said. ”Now we’ve found that because of the media and things they seem to linger longer. There’s a lot of attention paid to it. I don’t know why they linger longer, but I don’t remember them lingering like they do now.”
Given a chance to clarify his comment, Lewis declined.
AP Sports Writers Steve Reed in Charlotte and Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.
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