After a brutal helmet-to-helmet hit Sunday on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle that was the latest in a series of “repeated violations of unnecessary roughness rules,” the NFL suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the rest of the 2019 season, including the postseason.

“There were no mitigating circumstances on this play,” Jon Runyan, the NFL’s vice president of football operations, wrote in a statement. “Your contact was unnecessary, flagrant and should have been avoided. For your actions, you were warned by me and each of the jointly-appointed appeal 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 was ejected in the second quarter for the hit and the Raiders were first called for a 15-yard penalty. Upon review, Burfict was ejected from the game and blew kisses to the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium as he left the field.

Any suspension can, of course, be appealed, and the NFL Network reported that Burfict’s agent, Lamont Smith, has said he will appeal. Burfict has three business days in which to file an appeal that would be heard and decided by either Derrick Brooks or James Thrash, the officers chosen by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to decide incidents of on-field discipline. In 2017, Burfict’s five-game suspension for a hit on a defenseless player was reduced to three by Thrash.

Unless the suspension is reduced, Burfict will miss 12 regular season and any postseason games because he violated Rule 12, Section 2, Article 10, which states: “It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent.”

On Monday, he was with the team, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports, when it arrived in London for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. While his appeal is pending, he is not allowed to practice with the team or participate in any football activities.

The reaction to the hit Sunday on social media was swift, with calls for Burfict, one of the Raiders’ team captains, to be banned from the league for what was the latest in a lengthy string of late, brutal hits that have drawn multiple suspensions and fines over the years.

Burfict, who spent the previous seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, has been suspended 10 games, with six for violations of player safety rules. In addition to the three-game suspension in 2017, he was suspended for the first three games of the 2016 season for multiple player safety violations.

He also has been fined several times, with fines and game checks lost to suspension totaling more than $4 million. Three illegal hits last season drew fines of more than $165,000 and a warning that further hits would bring a suspension.

Burfict, 29, signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Raiders in the offseason.

“It’s a tough decision, it’s a tough call. I think it was a flag,” Raiders Coach Jon Gruden said Sunday (via ESPN). “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.”

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