Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr defended Vontaze Burfict on Wednesday after the linebacker was suspended for the rest of the season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle.
It was the latest incident in a long line of on-field misconduct by Burfict, who has previously been given four-game bans in both 2016 and 2017 for dangerous hits.
But Carr believes the perception of Burfict as a dirty player is unwarranted, with the quarterback calling his teammate "one of the most misunderstood people in the NFL."
"I don't think he was trying to hurt that man; the man was going down," Carr said, according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "You see it all the time - there's flags flying everywhere.
"We see other people choking people out, and they're going to play this Sunday. We see other people hitting people in the helmet, and they're going to play this Sunday. And Vontaze Burfict won't play the rest of the year? I think that's a little excessive, if you ask me. I don't think it's fair, if we really got to know the guy.
"If the people making the decision really knew the guy that we know, inside our building ... he's a great person, his heart is broken because he's not playing football. The guy just wants to play football. We don't get a lot of time to play this game in our lives."
Burfict - who was suspended 13 times in seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals - was ejected from Sunday's win after the hit was reviewed by the league office.
In its letter to the veteran, the NFL said Burfict's hit was "unnecessary, flagrant, and should have been avoided."
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden echoed his quarterback's message, saying he's "obviously upset about it."
Burfict is reportedly planning to appeal the suspension.