Fortunately, the latest comes without the swinging of any helmets.
Per John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Smith said he forgives Incognito “for instigating the incident” that resulted in Smith’s three-game suspension, which includes Week One of the regular season.
Even if Incognito instigated the incident, Smith crossed the line by removing Incognito’s helmet and trying to strike him in the face/head with it.
The same thing happened between the two last September. Incognito instigated an incident that resulted in Smith kicking Incognito in the head repeatedly, when Incognito grabbed Smith’s leg to, as Incognito told PFT, keep Smith from getting to a loose ball.
Smith was fined for kicking Incognito in the head repeatedly. Incognito wasn’t fined at all.
But it may not be entirely on Smith and/or Incognito this time around. The stage was set for a potential fracas, thanks to the official game program published by the Texans.
As is the usual case, a copy of the program was placed on every chair of every player in the Texans’ locker room. In it, Smith and Incognito were dubbed at page 6 as “players to watch,” with Incognito receiving this description: “In Week 1 of 2012, offensive guard Richie Incognito frustrated Smith with what the Texans’ defensive end termed ‘dirty play.’ Incognito was caught on video trying to twist Smith’s ankle when the two were locked up on the ground, and Smith was none too pleased. . . . [K]eep your eyes on Incognito and whoever he lines up against.”
As one league source explained it to PFT, players routinely flip through the programs, and they often react to what they see in there. In this specific case, the program published by the Texans gave a one-sided view of the incident, overstating Incognito’s actions, ignoring that Smith kicked Incognito repeatedly in the head, and omitting that Smith, not Incognito, was fined for the incident.
Could that have stirred things up, resulting in perhaps a little Goodfellas-style pre-game instigation from a locker room full of testosterone? It’s hardly a stretch to envision teammates giving either player some good-natured ribbing — leading to some bad-natured conduct on the field.
Either way, Smith and Incognito won’t get a chance for Round Three during the regular season, since their teams don’t play each other.