Bengals question Porter's role as NFL suspends Burfict for three games

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Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's request to Joey Porter that he not talk to his players during Saturday's game went unheeded.

Even before Saturday's Wild Card Game, Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther asked Steelers defensive assistant coach Joey Porter not to talk to his players after some trash-talking incidents in the Dec. 13 game.

So while Guenther isn't condoning cornerback Adam Jones' altercation at the end of Saturday's game that resulted in the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty sealing the Bengals' fate, he's livid that Porter provoked it.

Guenther called Porter's actions "a disgrace," and hopes the league is looking into it.

Apparently the NFL is. In the same Monday night press release the NFL announced it has suspended Bengals WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first three games of next season for repeated violations of player safety guidelines, the league said it is eyeballing "the conduct of other players and coaches . .. for potential discipline."  

The Bengals certainly hope Porter has something coming. Especially after he reportedly got a game ball for goading the Bengals into the fatal penalty.

"If that's true, that shows you the kind of organization they are,' Guenther said. On a play in the second quarter last month, Porter can be seen jawing at Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick after a play on the Steelers sidelines.

"I asked him nice," recalled Guenther when he approached Porter before the last game. "It's going to be a clean game. Two divisional opponents. A play-off game. I told him I told my guys I don't want any talking on the field or any B.S. on the field. Just do me a favor. Don't talk to our players and we won't talk to your players. Then in the heat of the battle he's standing in the middle of the field. You tell me why he's supposed to be out there. And he gets a game ball on top of it? You tell me.

"To me, that's not what an NFL coach is. An NFL coach shouldn't be talking trash to other guys," Guenther said. "They're supposed to be teachers. They're supposed to be professionals."

At this point, he thinks a fine is pretty useless.

Cincinnati Ben-Gal Cheerleaders perform during the Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers Wild Card playoff game 01/09/2016

"He gets a fine and I'm sure Mike Tomlin will pay his fine," Guenther said. "And we're sitting at home."

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth also unloaded on Porter Monday.

"I have a ton of respect for the Steelers," Whitworth said. "Tomlin and I had a big hug at the end of the game apologizing for everything that happened.  I got a lot of respect for those guys. Joey Porter is not one of them. He's not one of the guys I respect very much. He's a guy that has always run his mouth. He's always been disrespectful.  Before the first game he was at midfield wanting to fight. He's a coach, not a player. He has to be held to a higher standard. I think the unprofessionalism he has shown is ridiculous. It really is."

The NFL pointed to Burfict's hit to the neck and head area of Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown with 22 seconds left, the 15-yard unnecessary roughness call that gave the Steelers life.

The league said Burfict has previously been fined for safety-related violations four times in 2015, including a $50,000 fine for unnecessarily contacting tight end Maxx Williams, who was out of the play in the win over the Ravens in the regular-season finale. The web site spotrac.com puts Burfict's lost salary at $502,941 in the suspension.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by former players Derrick Brooks or James Thrash,the appeals officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.

Burfict, who went to the 2013 Pro Bowl with a nasty edge, has said he believes officials are targeting him. That's what he said when he received a damaging unnecessary penalty last month in overtime in December on the Broncos' winning drive. Burfict said he was simply trying to strip the ball from tight end Virgil Green at the end of an eight-yard completion, and when they ended up out of bounds he pulled away. But Burfict said Green flopped.

"I'm stripping the ball. The refs were late blowing the whistle all night," Burfict said. "They threw the flag late, when the dude flopped. The ref looked at me. Saw my number, then threw the flag. I can't control that. The refs obviously have it out for me, but you can't call a B.S. flag like that."

Cornerback Adam Jones said as much on Monday.

"Every time Vontaze hits someone, it's like he's trying to kill people. He's not. Go back and look at the game," Jones said. "Several times after plays they're just harassing him. I remember one time (left guard Ramon Foster) kicked him right in the back of the heel."

Whitworth can see some of that.

"I think Vontaze plays the game in a physical, nasty way. I think that's the way he plays the game," Whitworth said. "He plays out there with a bunch of nasty guys. He's going at them, they're going at him. I mean you go back and watch the film and people see what he's done, look how many guys take extra shots or push him over a pile or try and bury him. That happens all the time out there. It's like I said, it goes both ways."

Whitworth isn't prepared to say Burfict should be suspended because he thinks the defenseless players calls are difficult to judge and points to the one on Saturday night.

"I mean you saw (Brown) duck down. He ducks down and Tez lowers his shoulder. I mean yeah, could Tez go lower? Yeah, technically. But then we'd all be sitting here talking about how he went low on Antonio Brown and tried to hit him in the knee," Whitworth said. "The reality is we'd flip it either way because it's Vontaze. That's just the truth."

But Whitworth does believe that players should be suspended instead of merely fined.

"Fining people to me doesn't mean anything. Suspend people. You look at college football and targeting. I mean people hate the rule, but look what it's done to the game," Whitworth said. "Guys target, they're gone. See ya later. What would that do to a guy that's going to lose a paycheck or the next week he's suspended? Forget fines. Guys are going to say 'All right, I'm not going to do it because I'll hurt my team now. It won't just be a 10 or 20 thousand dollar pop to my pocket.' It will be hey, now I'm suspended or I'm held out the rest of the game."

 

Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium for the Wild Card playoff game 1/9/2016

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