Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen called for the NFL to suspend Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict after the oft-fined player twisted the ankles of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Olsen after touchdowns during Sunday’s 37-all tie.
TV replays showed Burfict twisting their ankles after making tackles on Newton and Olsen in the end zone after second-half touchdowns. Both players are coming off ankle injuries.
Burfict was not penalized on either play, but Olsen said his intent was clear.
“In instances like that that are so clearly premeditated, that he had in his mind that if he had those opportunities that he was going to try to attack guys’ legs, but guys who are coming off ankle problems specifically, there’s no room for it,” Olsen said Monday.
“And I think the punishment needs to go beyond a fine. Guys like that don’t learn from that stuff. He’s been fined 100 times for head-hunting, and he did it to (receiver) Kelvin (Benjamin) again. You watch the film; it’s just what he is.”
Newton had offseason surgery on his left ankle, which is the one Burfict grabbed in Sunday’s game. Olsen sustained an ankle injury in a Week 5 win against Chicago and missed two practices last week as a result.
Burfict twice last season was fined $21,000 for hits on receivers – one of whom was current Panthers practice squad wideout Stephen Hill – and was assessed a $10,000 fine for striking Green Bay tight end Ryan Taylor in the groin.
Hill, who was with the Jets when Burfict hit him with the crown of his helmet, said he wasn’t sure whether Burfict had done it intentionally.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated he planned to send tape of Burfict’s actions to the league office this week.
Olsen said if the league is serious about player safety, it needs to crack down on players who are intentionally trying to hurt opponents.
“At some point, if the NFL wants to really say they care about guys’ safety, they’ve got to start putting guys out for weeks because me and Cam were lucky we weren’t out for weeks, or Kelvin’s out for weeks,” Olsen said. “If you’re going to start putting guys on other teams’ out, then the ramifications need to equal that.”
Olsen was asked whether he thought Burfict was a dirty player.
“He’s a hard-nosed player. I think his style of game is what he is,” he said. “I think that’s why he knocks himself out half the time.”
Burfict has missed two games this season after sustaining concussions and left Sunday’s game against Carolina with a head injury before returning.
Burfict had two personal fouls against the Panthers – an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on Benjamin and a roughing the passer flag when he hit Newton out of bounds.
But the plays when Burfict appeared to intentionally injure Newton and Olsen are what irked Olsen.
“Football is a high-speed game and things happen – helmet-to-helmet collisions, late hits, tackles out of bounds. In the heat of the moment stuff like that happens,” Olsen said. “But I think when play’s over, two players are laying in the end zone and you happen to have their legs and you start cranking, I think that’s a whole different animal.”
Olsen, who had both his ankles taped Monday, said Burfict did not twist the ankle Olsen injured previously.
“Nah, he didn’t know which leg he had. He got the other one, thankfully. If he’d gotten the other one it would have been tough because he was cranking on them,” Olsen said. “The videos are pretty clear. We’ve all seen them.”