The NFL will have a hard time suspending free-agent guard Richie Incognito, given that the Dolphins already suspended him during the 2013 season and the labor deal permits only one suspension per infraction.
But that doesn’t mean the NFL can’t make it harder for Incognito to get back into the league.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports, citing an unnamed NFL source, that Incognito may sign a contract with a new team, but that Incognito may not receive compensation or play until he undergoes a “comprehensive [evaluation] by NFL-NFLPA designated medical advisors.” Commissioner Roger Goodell then must review their report and, presumably, approve or reject Incognito’s ability to play.
Given Incognito’s behavior both before and after his suspension, it’s fair for the league to have concerns. It’s not fair, however, if Incognito is being treated inconsistently, or if the NFL is using this requirement as a pretext for further punishment. Indeed, the mere imposition of this requirement could make it even harder for Incognito to find a team that will give him a contract.
While Incognito is hardly a sympathetic figure, he deserves to receive the same treatment as any other player or non-player. Which leads to an obvious question.
Will Colts owner Jim Irsay be required to submit to a similar evaluation before he’s permitted to return to the team?