Raiders' Vontaze Burfict suspended for rest of season

Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the rest of the 2019 season for his helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle, the league announced.

Burfict was ejected in the second quarter of the Raiders' 31-24 win. He was initially flagged for hitting Doyle in the head across the middle. But after the officials conferred, Burfict was thrown out.

The league said that Burfict will be not be paid during the suspension, which covers the postseason as well. The league cited his repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules in handing out the longest suspension ever for an on-field incident.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Burfict explaining the decision.

"There were no mitigating circumstances on this play," the letter said. "Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were penalized and disqualified from the game. Following each of your previous rule violations, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed officers that future violations would result in escalated accountability measures. However, you have continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk."

Burfict's agent, Lamont Smith, told ESPN's Josina Anderson that the veteran linebacker will appeal the suspension and that the hearing "most likely be next Tuesday." Smith also told Anderson that he believes "the 12-game suspension is excessive and the play that triggered the suspension was a football play."

The 29-year-old Burfict received 13 suspensions and fines in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Raiders as a free agent this offseason. Two of the suspensions were for illegal hits, totaling six games. He successfully appealed a five-game suspension in 2017 down to a three-game suspension.

In Burfict's first season with the Raiders, he was named a team captain.

"It's a tough decision, it's a tough call. I think it was a flag," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Sunday. "It was very well-documented that the league was going to review those plays this year in New York City. So that's what happened and I'll wait to hear what their reasoning was. But it was a penalty, he went in there with his head down, it was called and, unfortunately for us, it was an ejection."

Colts coach Frank Reich said Monday he was "thankful the league took the action it did."

"When someone does something like that, attacks one of your players, it's not supposed to be in the game," Reich said. "Glad they did what they did. Actions feel very appropriate."