Steelers WR apologizes for taunting Burfict after hit, but another calls it 'Karma'
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster apologized for the way he reacted after blocking Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and knocking him out of Monday night's game, while veteran wide receiver Antonio Brown reacted much differently to what happened on the play.
Smith-Schuster leveled Burfict with a high hit while blocking for teammate Le'Veon Bell after a short pass completion in the fourth quarter, and then stood over him, drawing a penalty for taunting. Burfict was taken off on a cart and was in concussion protocol, which prevented him from returning.
Burfict has a history of hits - some illegal - the Steelers haven't liked over the years, but Smith-Schuster said he wasn't going after Burfict on the play.
“I saw Le’Veon catch the ball and I was looking for the first person I could (block)," said Smith-Schuster. "I saw a Bengals’ jersey and I didn’t even know it was Burfict. It just so happened that he was the first player I saw. I didn’t know it was him until after."
Smith-Schuster was penalized twice on the play-- once for the hit on Burfict and once for his reaction afterward when he briefly stood over Burfict in a taunting manner-- but was not ejected.
He apologized for that action after the game.
"I apologize for standing over him," said Smith-Schuster. "It was very unsportsmanlike conduct. The unsportsmanlike conduct is not me. I shouldn’t have done that. I hope he gets better.”
He also wished teammate Ryan Shazer well, too, after Shazier was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center with a back/spinal injury.
While Smith-Schuster was apologetic, Brown said what happened to Burfict was "karma," according to several reporters who cover the Steelers.
Brown also reportedly said he liked the block Smith-Schuster made on Burfict.
Burfict gave Brown a concussion in the playoff game following the 2015 season with a hit late in the Steelers 18-16 win. Brown missed the following week's game against Denver, which the Steelers lost 23-16.
The drive during which Burfict was injured continued and it ended with a Brown touchdown catch. He was hit by Bengals safety George Iloka, who was flagged for targeting a defenseless receiver.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green pulled no punches about what he thought about the hit on Burfict.
"It was a dirty hit, man. A dirty hit," said Green.