Teammate: LB Burfict being provoked by refs

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Officials have provoked Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict at least three times in the past month, according to a teammate who came to Burfict’s defense Monday.

The Bengals player said he has heard officials cursing at Burfict on multiple occasions, and there is video that shows officials coming into contact with the linebacker three times in the past four games.

An NFL spokesman denied those charges Monday, saying it is not unusual for officials to come into contact with players and that there has been nothing unusual involving officials’ interactions with Burfict.

But over the past month, according to a source close to Burfict, the Bengals linebacker has grown increasingly upset with officials’ treatment of him and feels he is being singled out by officials.

Burfict has complained to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, a member of the league’s competition committee, but those complaints have not been brought to the league office, an NFL spokesman said Monday.

Lewis, for his part, said Monday that he doesn’t believe officials are antagonizing Burfict.

“Officials have a job to do, and I’ve explained this to Vontaze, and he understands that,” Lewis said. “They have a job to do and they are going to separate players, and players are in a situation where they are there. That’s not what this is about, where the NFL should be. So, get back to the huddle and get going, and that’s the most important thing. We don’t need to jaw with anyone after the play, any of the players, so that’s important.

“It would shock me if those things occur,” Lewis continued. “I know on occasions supposedly they have, but again, that would shock me.”

Officials made contact with Burfict in an Oct. 22 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, again in a Nov. 5 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars and then in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, during which Burfict was ejected for the first time in his career.

In the second quarter of the Bengals’ 24-20 loss to Tennessee, Burfict was involved in a shoving match with a Titans offensive lineman. Down judge Jeff Bergman had a hand out to hold Burfict back during the altercation, and Burfict knocked his hand away.

The league does not plan to suspend Burfict for making contact with Bergman, a source confirmed to ESPN.



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