Is One Team’s Trash Another Team’s Treasure?: Deep Thoughts on Richie Incognito – Part 1

After a five year stint with the New York Jets at his first head coaching job, Rex Ryan was hired as the new head coach for the Buffalo Bills.  Choosing to ignore the criticism and potential backlash, one of Ryan’s first decisions as head coach was to sign offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

Rex Ryan is known for giving washed-out players a chance at an NFL comeback – like Michael Vick (bust),

Getty Images

Getty Images

and Tim Tebow (bust).

Sports Talk Florida Photo

Sports Talk Florida Photo

So what about Richie Incognito?  Will he be a Bust?

USA Today Photo

USA Today Photo

On Monday, Incognito (31 years old), one of the poster children for NFL bad boys, signed with the Buffalo Bills for 1-year with a non-guaranteed base salary of $900,000, a signing bonus of $100,000 and a $100,000 workout bonus.

Yes, he’s getting paid to get back into shape during the off-season.

Unfortunately, we don’t associate Richie Incognito with football as much as we associate him with the 2013 NFL ‘Bullying Scandal.’  In case you were living under a rock in 2013, Incognito was the ring leader of the infamous Miami Dolphins locker room bullying scandal, specifically with regards to teammate Jonathan Martin.  From behavior issues on the field to off field issues ranging from sexually harassing a woman (in 2012 Incognito was accused of molesting a volunteer at a charity golf tournament with a golf club, capping off the act by throwing a bottle of water in her face — maybe she was just dehydrated?) to vulgar acts directed at other players (like taking a picture with his penis next to a sleeping players head — and no, I won’t be including that picture), Incognito was a hot mess by the time he was suspended in early November 2013 for “conduct detrimental to the team”.

Can a Tiger change his Stripes?

The Buffalo Bills agreed to sign Incognito based on his “sincere word” that he was a changed man.  But what proof did Incognito provide to demonstrate his sincerity?

A heart shaped apology card?  A rose (with chocolates, of course, but not Russell Stover’s because I promise you, no one really wants Russell Stover’s chocolate)?  A Buffalo Bills pillow pet?

Bills Pillow Pet

Whatever it was, it worked.

Incognito supposedly spent a year regretting his past transgressions while re-evaluating his life after getting treatment for 3-weeks in an Arizona psychiatric center in February 2014 and 6-weeks at McClean Institute in Boston in the Summer 2014.

But can we believe the sincerity of a man who professed innocence, claiming that the accusations were “slander,” when accused of bullying teammate Jonathan Martin?

Last Valentine’s Day, the 144 page Ted Well’s report, an independent investigation of the ‘Bullying Scandal’, concluded that Incognito was the leader (yes, others were involved) and was indeed involved in creating a hostile environment for Jonathan Martin (and others).

Incognito didn’t seem to care much about the report.  He was too busy hitting the LA nightclubs and picking up ladies.  In the days follow the report, TMZ caught up with Incognito in Beverly Hills and in a quick street interview, Incognito apologized, stating that he was misunderstood and he just wanted to play football.

Aren’t we all misunderstood?  And, don’t all football players want to play in the NFL?  Didn’t sound like much of an apology.

A week later Incognito took a bat to his own Ferrari, claiming he was “venting…that was self-expression, that’s a piece of art.”  Sure, I do that to my Fiat too when I’m venting.  Of course, my car doesn’t cost $300,000, plus my first born as a down payment.

Incognito's CarOf course, nobody can truthfully say whether Incognito is or isn’t a changed man.  We can only take his word, until shown otherwise.

In an article, Incognito said a number of things that made it sound like he might be a changed person.  Let’s take a look at what he said, and what I think it really meant:

Incognito: “I needed to respect those around me more and that I needed to realize I may find things funny that other find offensive.  The whole learning process was about becoming more self-aware.  About becoming a better person/teammate/leader.”

My translation: I really have no remorse for my actions, because I thought it was funny (can’t anyone take a joke), but during my therapy sessions and anger management groups, I was told – “hey, dude that sh*t’s offensive.”  So, I guess I have to be more careful about what I post to Twitter.  No more harassment with golf clubs.  No more penis pictures. No more locker room shenanigans and picking up random ladies at the clubs…at least until I get a more solid offer from another team.

Incognito: “We mutually expressed that this would be my last chance and we should look at it as a positive.”

My translation: They told me one mistake and I’m out.  I nodded.

Incognito: “Take the opportunity to bring attention to the sensitive subject while proving to people that I’m not a racist jerk.”

My translation: What, I’m a racist jerk?  Who told you that?  I’m gonna . . . um . . . never mind.

Incognito: “We talked about possible ways to turn this situation around and ways we can impact the community.”

My translation: They told me I’ll be doing a lot of community work to improve my image so people won’t hate the team.  I nodded.

Well, that sounds sincere to me, don’t you agree?

So how did all this start?  Tune in next time for more on Incognito as we take a look at his life and career to figure out how he could have gotten to this point.  But for now, here’s a picture of a cat.  There’s nothing scarier than an adorable cat.  Happy Friday the 13th. Meow.

Cute Cat

By Joanne Kong

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