Richie Incognito, the former guard for the Bills, Dolphins, and Rams, has signed a new contract with the Oakland Raiders. The signing is odd, in that the Raiders have said publicly they are looking for younger players with high character, and Incognito is neither of those things. He’s actually the exact opposite of those things.
Incognito is 35 years old and well past his prime. He already retired once, in 2017, when he said, “I’m done. That’s it. It’s been a long career. Went to the doctor. My liver and kidneys are shutting down. The stress is killing me.”
Not really the sound of a guy anxious to mix it up in the trenches for another 16 weeks.
And that makes it all the more puzzling that Oakland would go out of their way to bring in a broken down and aging player that is legitimately crazy and most notable for his history of horrible and erratic behavior.
There is of course the bullying of teammates that went on when he was in Miami, which is why the Dolphins sent him packing. And even more disturbing, there is the series of bizarre events that played out last summer, and has never been fully addressed.
A year ago May he attacked a man at a gym, started randomly throwing objects at him, and eventually had to be detained by police. While in their custody he told police that he worked for the National Security Agency, was in possession of classified government material, and the man he attacked was trying to steal the documents through his blue tooth headphones.
Just a few months later, just after Incognito’s father died, he was arrested at a funeral home after threatening to shoot a number of the employees. According to police reports Incognito became enraged at the employees because they wouldn’t let him cut off his father’s head and have it used for research. A number of guns were found in his truck.
But now, less than a year after threatening to carry out a mass shooting, he’s back in the NFL as the newest member of the Oakland Raiders.
Incognito is NFL eligible, so the signing is legitimate. But friends, this is an example as to why when talking about your favorite NFL team, be very careful about throwing stones.
It is super fun to trash your arch rivals when they’re up against it. But as has always been the case in the NFL, if you want to play the roster purity game, everyone is a loser.
The league is filled with players that you’d never want to hang out with. Guys who you cheer for to make plays on Sunday, but would never be allowed to watch your children. That is the reality and no team is above it.
All of this is to say the league definitely needs to work on itself. Steps have been made recently, with the NFL and NFLPA working together on wellness programs and increased access to counseling and other mental health therapies. But there needs to be greater player and team accountability as well.
That is true for players like Richie Incognito, or the other Raiders questionable signing this offseason, Vontaze Burfict. And it remains true for the Chiefs and Tyreek Hill.