Burfict suspension trimmed from 5 games to 3

The five-game suspension of Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict has been reduced to three games, the NFL announced Wednesday.

Burfict’s suspension was for an illegal hit against Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman this month. James Thrash, a former NFL wide receiver, presided over the appeal.

Burfict, a repeat offender, hit the player while in a defenseless posture, according to the league. It is a new rule the NFL is implementing this season to protect the player who can’t protect himself.

Earlier this week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis defended Burfict and said that the hit was legal, emphasizing that Burfict did not lead with his helmet.

“His head was out to the left, as you can see in every single angle,” Lewis said. “Behind, front, television, All-22, it’s always out to the side and in front of the player. There’s no contact whatsoever. And if you have to slow down things in high definition and go frame by frame, and you’re still not sure, we don’t officiate the game that way. … I don’t see how the players can be held to that standard as well.”

Burfict was also suspended the first three games of the 2016 season for numerous violations of player safety rules, including an illegal hit on Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown during the 2015 playoffs. The 6-foot-1 linebacker was also fined $75,000 last season by the league for stomping on then-New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount.

During his five-year NFL career, Burfict has been fined almost $800,000 and flagged 16 times for unnecessary roughness, personal fouls or roughing the passer. The lost wages of his latest suspension would more than double that total.

Burfict will now miss games against the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers. He will be able to return to the Bengals on Monday, Sept. 25, one day after the Packers game.

Information from ESPN’s Katherine Terrell and Adam Schefter was used in this report.

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