NFL suspends JuJu Smith-Schuster one game for hit on Vontaze Burfict and taunting afterward

Shutdown Corner

JuJu Smith-Schuster apologized after hitting Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, but the NFL didn’t accept his apology.

Smith-Schuster, the popular Pittsburgh Steelers rookie receiver, was suspended one game by the NFL for his hit on Burfict in Monday night’s game. The NFL acted fast, suspending Smith-Schuster a little more than 12 hours after the game had ended. The NFL also suspended Bengals safety George Iloka for a fourth-quarter hit to Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s head in the end zone.

The Monday night game was a violent one with many questionable hits, and that was probably a reason the NFL acted as swiftly as it did.

Iloka’s hit was a brutal one too, and also drew a flag. Somehow Brown managed to hang onto the pass in the end zone. The NFL explained he was suspended for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head.

Smith-Schuster honed in on Burfict as he pursued a tackle, and hit an unsuspecting Burfict in the jaw. He might have been able to avoid a suspension, but then he stood over Burfict and got a taunting penalty, which was a terrible look after Ryan Shazier had left the game on a cart due to an injury in the first quarter. Burfict was carted off too.

“You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game,” NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan said. “Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then ‘celebrated’ the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player.”

Smith-Schuster said after the game that he didn’t regret the block but didn’t intend to hurt anyone and was sorry for standing over him.

Many Steelers fans didn’t mind the hit. Burfict is known as a dirty player and has a history with the Steelers. However, Smith-Schuster’s big hit is going to cost him a game.

Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict gestures as he is carted off the field on Monday night. (AP)
Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict gestures as he is carted off the field on Monday night. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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