Richie Incognito: NFL Bully
November 4, 2013
Richie Incognito: NFL Bully
NFL Investigative Reporter Jay Stern
The big news out of Miami is the suspension of Dolphin Offensive
Tackle Richie Incognito for ‘Conduct Detrimental to the Team’ in
connection with his bullying, harassment and intimidation of fellow
teammate and lineman Jonathan Martin.
For those unfamiliar with the situation, Jonathan Martin is a highly
educated Stanford graduate whose parents are both Harvard graduates and
who happens to be black. By contrast, Incognito is a hot-tempered bully
who was kicked off his college team — the Nebraska Cornhuskers — for
multiple violations including attacking a teammate, and is widely
considered the dirtiest player in the NFL.
The alleged misconduct involves Incognito using mafia-like tactics to
extort $15,000 from Martin and his fellow lineman to pay for a trip to
Las Vegas for Incognito and a few other players. From reports
surrounding the now-official NFL investigation, Incognito is coming off
no different than the elementary school bully to whom no one wants to
stand up and who, through intimidation makes followers out of those who
would otherwise fear becoming his target.
Incognito is no stranger to trouble and controversy. In 2004, the Lincoln Journal Star reported
that, “Incognito has struggled to control his temper both on and off
the field since arriving at Nebraska in 2001.” Rumors of insubordination
and temper tantrums surrounded his years at Nebraska, culminating in an
incident in which he viciously attacked and beat up his teammate Grant
One report from an eyewitness (as reported on RedOut.com) described the event as follows:
[Nebraska Wideout] Grant Mulkey was talking with fellow
teammates about his impending first start. Being excited about his first
start he was a little on the emotional side. Incognito walked in and
heard and saw Mulkey in a emotional state and started giving him a bad
time. As a comeback, Mulkey told Incognito that he’d be playing instead
of sitting in the stands watching game. Upon hearing this, Incognito
went nuts. He jumped on Mulkey and started to beat the crap out of him.
After teammates separated them, Incognito went after Mulkey again. The
second attack happened after Incognito approached Mulkey as if to
apologize to him. With the two of them being friends, Mulkey had his
guard down. The second incident was not so easy. It took ten players to
get Incognito off of Mulkey. Upon hearing the about the incident
Callahan walk in and immediately Incognito verbally assaulted Callahan
and threatened to kick his ass.
Tom Shatel, a reporter with the Omaha World Herald, described
Incognito’s situation regarding the Mulkey incident as a “a repeat
offender repeating while on suspension,” indicating that Incognito had
been involved in multiple incidents within a brief period of time during
the 2003-2004 season and describing him as a “good young man with anger
issues.” NFL reporter Jeff Darlington described Incognito’s suspension
at Nebraska as being the result of fighting not just with a teammate,
but with “teammates, opponents and random students.”
If you think Incognito learned his lesson after being suspended
indefinitely from Nebraska and transferring to Oregon, you’d be
mistaken. After being drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams
in 2005 (and sitting out his rookie season with an injury), Incgonito
quickly gained a reputation as a nasty player: From 2006 through 2009,
Incognito drew seven penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct — more than anyone else in the NFL during that span.
The NFL itself, on its own website refers to Incognito as the ‘NFL’s Dirtiest Player’.
In the story written by NFL reporter Jeff Darlington, he describes
Incognito as having thrived in the NFL despite “a decade of anger
management issues and substance abuse.” The same article references an
incident in which Incognito was accused of punching a bouncer in the
face at a South Beach nightclub. ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reported the incident as follows:
According to the police report, Incognito and a group of
friends were trying to get a closer look at an on-stage performer, at
which point the security guard asked the group to back up. A member of
Incognito’s group then pushed the security guard, which started a fight.
Incognito told police he tried to break up the incident. Incognito
refused medical treatment for minor facial injuries, according to the
report. League sources said Incognito punched and knocked out the security guard (emphasis added), though the police report makes no mention of this.
His substance abuse includes not only a decade of marijuana use but
admittedly “[d]rinking. Doing Drugs. Everything a professional athlete
should not be doing.” In the same piece, Incognito admits to using the
psychotropic anti-depressant drug Paxil to keep his mood swings in check
since becoming a Miami Dolphin.
Despite his ongoing efforts to conquer his demons, it appears as
though Incognito’s latest incident with Jonathan Martin may be the final
straw. After being kicked out of St. Louis and Buffalo, it appears that
Incognito has worn out his welcome in Miami. And though, the NFL is
known for giving talented players second and third chances, this may be
Strike Three for Richie Incognito.
Some non-football fans might read of Incognito’s history of trouble
and ponder, ‘How can yet another poor excuse for a human be given so
many chances and become a multi-millionaire solely because of his
ability to block a 300 lb lineman?’ But that would be overlooking the
manner in which high school, college, and NFL coaches and teams
routinely make excuses for and bail their players out of trouble in the
name of the almighty victory and dollar. Anyone in need of a reference
for can simply read the shocking and under-reported story of former NFL Tight End Jerramy Stevens.
For now, Incognito’s actions in the Jonathan Martin incident are
under investigation, but if the rumors of racist voicemail messages left
for Martin are accurate (and released to the public), it’s safe to say
that Incognito has played his last NFL game. Former NFL Vice-President
of Player Personnel for the Patriots and former-KC Chiefs General
Manager Scott Pioli seems inclined to agree in an interview with ESPN’s
Dan Patrick on NBC’s Football Night in America:
Pioli: If [Incognito] is a leader in your locker room,
that is a problem, because he has a long history of issues going back to
Nebraska, when he was kicked out of school. But, what this shows me is
that there is some void of leadership somewhere within the Miami
Dolphins locker room, because if there are issues like this, generally
the head coach or the general manager is going to know something about
this. They’re going to be able to fix the problem before it manifests
itself into this disaster they have right now.
Patrick: Would you want Richie Incognito in your locker room?
Pioli: I didn’t want him coming out [of college], and I don’t want him now.
Which might show that the old adage about how to deal with bullies is accurate: If you stand up to a bully, he’ll just go away.