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|Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict conducted his first interview in months on Sunday at the NFL scouting combine.|
For Burfict, however, it was one of the longer group interviews he's done in at least two years. He avoided interviews in college, he said, because "sometimes I did a written interview and the things I said didn't really come out as I said it. I just thought it was best for me not to do any interviews because people were putting words in my mouth and putting me as a bad guy."
On Sunday, Burfict blamed that on officials and his aggressiveness.
"I just love to hit," he said. "I hate to lose."
The decisions of coaches also played a role in the lack of production, he said.
"I played average," he said. "I could've played better. That's what hurt me at times. The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it."
He did accept blame, sort of, for punching a teammate in the locker room, an incident that carried over from the practice field, he said.
"It started in seven-on-seven and he ran a route and hit me, and we're not supposed to hit each other in seven-on-seven," he said. "We had an argument, and we brought it into the locker room. We started chattering about it, he started rough-housing me. He pushed me, and my first instinct was to swing, and everyone thinks I'm the bad guy because my first instinct was to swing on the guy."
Q: Why didn't you do interviews in college?
A: I'm a football player who's never been comfortable talking to people. I get nervous, and sometimes I say stuff that embarrasses me and those I care about. I think my swagger helps me play linebacker. But it also makes it hard to filter my thoughts. I'm still learning. And I know it's something I need to get better at.
Q: Has the media been fair to you?
A: That's hard to answer. Probably. But it's hard to read bad stuff about yourself. Sometimes I thought stuff was unfair. There's an image out there of me in the media, and I don't think that's who I am. But I do know I am responsible for my image. I also know that blaming the media does me no good. I need to focus on what I need to do to get better in all areas of my life, and I know that working with the media is part of being an NFL player.
Q: Why did you get so many personal foul penalties and late flags?
A: Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me. Sometimes I was just playing football and those things happen. And then you get a few for your reputation. But I realize the bottom line is not hurting my team. Again, I know this is something I need to get better with, and I want any team that drafts me to know that I will.
Q: Why did you take a step back this season?
A: I've thought about that a lot. For one, I was too big -- 260 pounds. I need to be leaner in the NFL so I can play fast. I think I might have been distracted, thinking about the NFL. I tried not to be, but I have to say it was a problem. There were a lot of things. It takes 100 percent focus to be a great football player, and I didn't have that this past season. But college is different. There's a lot of stuff going on there that's not about football. The NFL is my dream. Wherever I end up, that team will have a linebacker who is 100 percent focused on being the best player he can be -- in every practice, in the locker room and every Sunday.