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Vontaze Burfict confirms report of alleged provocation by officials

Vontaze Burfict on Friday corroborated details from a report from earlier in the week alleging that officials provoked him before he was ejected from last Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Cincinnati Bengals linebacker, no stranger to on-field controversy, made contact with down judge Jeff Bergman, who was trying to separate Burfict and Titans offensive lineman during a confrontation in the first half.

Burfict was flagged for a personal foul on the previous play before making contact with the official, and the consecutive flags merited the ejection.

“I knew I didn’t do anything bad,” Burfict said in his first comments on the incident, via ESPN. “Obviously, you are not supposed to touch the officials, but I didn’t think I touched him maliciously at all. I pretty much said, ‘Excuse me.'”

Burfict also confirmed a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter earlier in the week alleging officials were provoking him.

“The refs, they come up to me, talking to me disrespectfully, wanting me to curse back at them, but me cursing back at them isn’t going to help me,” Burfict said. “I’m not going to get a flag in my favor next time around, but that’s the way they handle business, I guess. I told Coach I’m just going to try to stay out of the refs’ way.”

An anonymous Bengals player earlier this week made the claim that Burfict has been targeted by officials at least three times in the past four games. An NFL spokesman subsequently denied the allegations made by the player.

Burfict nevertheless insisted he will attempt to avoid such incidents in the future even though he feels he was simply defending himself in this instance.

“In the heat of the moment, when someone is touching you, you’re going to obviously get their hands off you as well,” Burfict said. That’s how I was raised. I was raised to defend myself always.”

Burfict was not suspended for the incident but still faces a potential fine. He has been either fined or suspended 11 times during his career.