Should Raiders have given Richie Incognito his latest second chance?

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The Raiders are flirting with acquiring a shiner on their good eye.

The team’s latest calculated risk comes from the decision to sign offensive lineman Richie Incognito, giving him at least his second second chance. Or maybe it’s his third second chance. Or maybe it’s his second third chance.

Incognito’s behavior has resulted in not one but two full seasons away from football, one coming in 2014 following the Jonathan Martin incident in Miami and one coming in 2018 after he threatened to shoot up a funeral home — and had the weaponry in his vehicle to do it.

Incognito’s litany of bad behavior goes back at least 15 years. He had anger-management issues and assault charges and suspensions while at Nebraska before leaving school in September 2004. He transferred to Oregon, but he lasted there only one week.

As a result, multiple teams had Incognito off the board in 2005, but the Rams took him in round three. After three uneventful seasons, Incognito absorbed $35,000 in fines after a 2008 game against Washington for repeated verbal abuse of an official, a face mask foul, and a chop block.

The next year, Incognito drew a pair of 15-yard penalties during a game against the Titans. Benched by Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo, the two argued on the sidelines. Two days later, the Rams cut Incognito.

Claimed on waivers by the Bills, he finished the 2009 season in Buffalo and signed with the Dolphins in 2010. Incognito had a couple of clean years (relatively speaking), before an ugly incident at the team’s annual charity golf event, during which he repeatedly harassed a female volunteer, at one point placing a golf club on her genital. He later paid roughly $30,000 to settle her civil lawsuit, and the Dolphins fined him $55,000.

All hell broke loose the next year, with the Martin incident and the Ted Wells investigation that followed. Beyond the harassment and hazing of Martin, Wells found that Incognito and others repeatedly directed racial slurs and taunts to an Asian-American trainer.

The Bills and Rex Ryan gave Incognito another second chance in 2015, after more than a year out of the game. Incognito once again re-established himself, but once again it didn’t last. Following a 2017 playoff game against the Jaguars, Jacksonville defensive end Yannick Ngakoue accused Incognito of using racial slurs on the field. Incognito later retired, unretired, fired his agents on Twitter, demanded to be released, and was released by the Bills.

Last May, he allegedly threw a tennis ball and a dumbbell at another person while at a gym in Florida, resulting in his placement on an involuntary psychiatric hold. In August 2018, Incognito launched into a profane tirade on Twitter after Vikings coach Mike Zimmer denied interest in signing Incognito.

Later that month, Incognito was arrested for threatening to shoot employees at a funeral home, while making arrangements following the death of his father. Police found two Glocks, three rifles, and a silencer in Incognito’s car.

Employees of the funeral home said that Incognito punched caskets and threw things. He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

Against this extensive background of incidents and allegations, why would the Raiders want a guy who’ll turn 36 in July, and who arguably isn’t so obviously talent to justify giving him a job?

Remember, Incognito’s latest second chance comes at the expense of someone else. Here, it was Chaz Green, who was cut to make room for Incognito. If Incognito makes it to the 53-man roster, someone else who would have had a job (and who doesn’t have the same sordid background as Incognito) won’t.

“You can’t have all boy scouts,” G.M. Mike Mayock said Tuesday in defending the move. But that’s a copout. Incognito, on the range of renegade players, resides at the polar opposite of “Boy Scout.” He has proven time and again to have a short fuse, issues with impulse control, and an inability to treat others with proper dignity and respect.

As former NFL linebacker Julian Peterson said of Incognito in 2008, “You know, like the FBI’s 20 Most Wanted? Yeah, he’d be on that list.”

And yet the Raiders still embraced Incognito. Yes, it’s a low-cost, one-strike, prove-it deal. But what if that next one strike happens? Is it enough to simply cut him at that point, or should the Raiders fairly be scrutinized and criticized for giving him the opportunity to have that next strike while representing Big Shield?

Giving safe harbor to dangerous personalities shouldn’t be a matter of a risk-reward analysis, with a team rolling the dice on a nothing-to-lose bet. It should be a matter of what’s right, and what isn’t. Given Incognito’s long and established history of misconduct, this just doesn’t seem right.

But it’s right for the Raiders, possibly because the Raiders realize the value of having an offensive lineman with a mean streak and a burning desire to play football in the building. Coach Jon Gruden can point to Incognito as having the kind of toughness that he wants the rest of the offensive (and defensive) linemen to display, and the Raiders can ultimately decide when it’s time to cut the roster from 90 to 53 that Incognito isn’t good enough (and, as Chris Simms pointed out on PFT Live today) doesn’t fit the scheme well enough to keep him on the team.

Regardless of whatever motivation the Raiders may have had, teams should exercise greater discretion when embracing players with checkered pasts. And the league should give them a reason to do so, by imposing meaningful sanctions on any team that gives a second chance to someone who later proves he didn’t deserve it.

82 responses to “Should Raiders have given Richie Incognito his latest second chance?

  1. If he makes the cut to 53, and earns a spot on the roster….so be it….bottom line Raiders needed a LG.

    Go Raiders!

  2. Yes. Of course Richie Incognito deserves another chance. Interesting how virtually all of Richie Incognito’s ex-teammates in Miami and Buffalo seem to like him, respect him and love playing with him.

  3. That’s some preachy, holier than thou stuff there.

    I don’t care anymore about Richie’s past transgressions off the field as a football player, than I do about off work crap my barber does in his free time.

    If the dude can still play, or cut hair, that’s it. Hero’s wear uniforms without numbers where I’m from.

  4. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, “I never saw anything with Richie Incognito in how he treated people and his fellow players,” says Taylor, “I was very pleased with the guy I met.

  5. NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter elaborated on the racial aspect further after talking with center Mike Pouncey.
    “As far as Richie Incognito they don’t feel as though he is a racist or a bully. They are very, very comfortable with Richie”.

  6. He has got enough material for not only a made-for-tv movie, but a miniseries. This guy is all sorts of terrible awesome.

  7. Every great story line has the villain and the hero. The Raiders have been fine filling the role of the bad guys, so the signing seems fitting. It’s not like they are giving Burfict another chance to play who is the most dirty player in the NFL since Jack Tatum……..oops

  8. Richie really needs to focus on his mental health. I do not think the stress of the game or additional hits to the head is going to be of benefit to him. As much as everyone like to make jokes about this guy he has a very sad story.

  9. Until some team stands up and says enough with bad behavior role models it will only get worse. You can’t have all Boy Scouts but you need to at least look like you are trying to achieve that. Or has football stopped being a positive role model sport for kids?

  10. No, but they are the Raiders. Win the offseason by collective a bunch of misfit toys and then watch them implode as the season plays on.
    It’s kind of their thing.

  11. Interesting that the hard knocks announcement is imminent and Raiders sign him. Perhaps this is an effort to swing the Raiders onto Hard Knocks, or off depending on how the “Big Shield” wants the show.

  12. He can play if he can compete and make a roster. That’s what the game is about. Anything else is political bias that has no part in sports. PROVE ME WRONG.

  13. So if “the league” wants to prevent teams from employing a player, why don’t they ban said player? Seems Rodger has the capacity to do that.

  14. No. People can earn second chances, but being a highly paid professional athlete is a great privilege. His past problems should preclude him from taking the spot of another gifted athlete who deserves a shot to start in the NFL. Incognito can work on becoming a better person without playing in the NFL.

  15. “… why would the Raiders want a guy who’ll turn 36 in July, and who arguably isn’t so obviously talent to justify giving him a job?”

    Exactly. There are plenty other linemen who would do as good or better on the field, AND without the disturbing personality traits.

  16. It’s not gonna be a popular opinion but did his offenses involve women??? Anger management yes…. Inhumane no. I’d even go so far as to say the guy in the gym most likely provoked him full well knowing the response he was going to get. Most likely In search of financial gain.

  17. Ok seriously, let’s talk about the status of mental health in America. Clearly Richie has issues, but rather then talk about what he has done to try and better himself OR the NFL system that encourages this type of behavior because ‘they can’t all be boy scouts’. They need a guy who isn’t stable, right? Who in a healthy place is going to put their body on the line like that? That attitude they wait, Miami had coaches (now in Cincinnati) involved too, they need guys like Richie to teach the new guys how to give up everything on Sunday. Leave it all on the field.
    Richie lost his dad and was probably stressed mentally and has been taught his entire career to be aggressive. How do you think you’d react?
    Not excusing him at all. He sounds like a real class act. My question is, why aren’t we asking what the Raiders are doing to help him off the field? What is the NFL doing to help the next Richie? Because he isn’t the first and he won’t be the last. Also teach these ‘men’ the be men and treat women like people.

  18. Teammates, regardless of race, have rallied to Incognito’s side.
    “I don’t have a problem with Richie, I consider him a friend and great teammate,” said WR Mike Wallace.
    “I love Richie.”“I don’t think Richie is a racist,” cornerback Brent Grimes said.
    “Richie isn’t a racist. I have always gotten along great with Richie.” Mike Pouncey said

  19. No. I do not see the upside of adding Incognito to the roster. In addition to not being a boy scout, he is also a moments notice away from a complete meltdown.

  20. Yes, it’s a low-cost, one-strike, prove-it deal.
    its done
    he brings nasty
    really doesn’t matter who likes it or not
    the Oline just got better
    he will be next to our second year Rookie Miller
    if nothing else maybe he can teach the Oline

    SUM NASTY

  21. Antonio Brown was asked yesterday after team OTA’s about Raiders signing Richie Incognito.
    Antonio Brown said “Richie Incognito is a great guy, big personality”.

  22. silvernblackpride says:
    May 29, 2019 at 12:11 pm
    Yes, it’s a low-cost, one-strike, prove-it deal.
    its done
    he brings nasty
    really doesn’t matter who likes it or not
    the Oline just got better
    he will be next to our second year Rookie Miller
    if nothing else maybe he can teach the Oline

    SUM NASTY

    ————-

    He destroyed Miami. He abandoned Buffalo. Teams are 59-91 with him as a starter. He’s now 36 and hasn’t played in a year.

    How does he make your OL better exactly?

  23. He’ll be the oldest offensive lineman in football, and hasn’t played in 18 months.

    Raiders gonna Raiders.

  24. Burfict vs. Incognito…The Raiders signed both so they can both end each others careers during the most epic camp fight in NFL history. (Problem(s) solved)

    2 Birds 1 Stone

  25. If teams could be punished by a loss of a draft choice for a violent off the field behavior incident(s) of a player under contract to them you’d see a heck of a lot less than these “second chance” signings. Let’s face it the Raiders aren’t signing him out of the goodness of their heart as is the case with other teams signing these domestic abusers. They’re signing these players because they’re coming cheap and thought to still have on field football talent. There’s no risk at all to the clubs as long as they’re willing to take the hit on some short term negative PR. Tie in a loss of a draft choice if a player acts out again then these teams would be less likely to sign these players and that’s a gamble they won’t take because there’s a cost to them. I guess starters with Pro Bowl talent are the ones that get these chances.

  26. “Incognito’s behavior has resulted in not one but two full seasons away from football, one coming in 2014 following the Jonathan Martin incident in Miami”
    ________________

    His only “wrong” in the Martin incident was some non-PC language you hear every day in every locker room in the NFL. If you look through all the messages it was clear he and Martin were friends right up until Martin lost it and concocted the abuse story. It’s readily apparent now that Martin had been having issues for many years.

  27. Are you kidding ? this guy is perfect for the Raiders, they will probably make him a team captain

  28. All this hate toward Richie!!

    People here are way too judgemental, like you never made a mistake.

  29. This isn’t a matter of deserving or being afforded second chances. He has had plenty and has not proven he has put in place a solid program of recovery.

    Wow can the locker room feel safe with this dude showing he can go off at any given time??

  30. Bullygate was a fabrication of Goodell so I don’t even include that when I think about Incognito.

    Many players have long histories of being fined for one thing or another, their fines are paid, suspensions served, they should be able to play again if a team is willing to sign them.

    The off the field stuff is muddier. Is he someone with mental health problems who needs to take meds and went off them? Or is he truly a bad person? If its the former then the team damn well better make sure he stays on the meds. If the latter then eventually he’ll get arrested and end up in jail, and the league can suspend him for violations of the personal conduct policy. Until then any team can sign him no matter what the internet lynch mob thinks.

  31. Listen, Im a fan of second chances more than anyone else. But Incognito has run out of them. I see a lot of arguments about his teammates defending him, and I have no doubt that hes learned to be a better person in the lockerroom after the Martin incident. But that doesnt change the fact that being involved with football seems to make whatever issues this guy has off the field worse. Football seems to make him mentally unstable.

    Frankly, im kind of tired of these kinds of things. Incognito, Devontae Parker, Vontez Burfict and all these other dangerous people keep getting chances to shame themselves and their teams publicly while so many other good people and decent players never get a chance

  32. If I’m a Raider I wouldn’t bring my personal car to work with this guy around, that’s all I’m saying.

  33. I’d sign Richie to a risk free contract before I’d let Johnathon Martin walk into my facility for free.

  34. If Incognito still has it, then his signing gives the Raiders one of the best o-line interiors in the league with him along with Rodney Hudson & Gabe Jackson.

    Unfortunately the o-tackles are still a weakness. Trent Brown was hugely overpaid and may be adequate but on the other side Kolton Miller was a 2018 1st round bust who played awfully last season. And Brandon Parker (another 2018 pick) is also very bad.

  35. Its the Raiders. They dont care about player character or team culture. This is just another example of a desperate team making a desperate move. Nothing new to see here.

  36. Actually the question is what took him so long to get to the Raiders? A match made in heaven.

  37. The league shouldn’t impose any sanctions on teams for player misconduct. That’s the job of the law, not the league.

    The NFL is overregulated as it is. There’s a rule and subrule. I sometimes think the massive collection of rules is designed to drive fan debate and interest.

    But there’s no utility in adding another one here.

  38. PFTAgenda says:
    May 29, 2019 at 12:00 pm
    Interesting that the hard knocks announcement is imminent and Raiders sign him. Perhaps this is an effort to swing the Raiders onto Hard Knocks, or off depending on how the “Big Shield” wants the show.
    —————–
    I don’t think there’s any “swinging” left to be done… The Raiders are going to be on Hard Knocks. Book it.

  39. The guy’s been dropped on his head more times than I can count. Is he a good offensive lineman? Yes. Do the Raiders need an offensive lineman? Yes. Is it Jon Gruden’s call? Yes. Does he have a mental disorder? Probably. Should his possible mental disorder keep him unemployed? Not if it doesn’t effect his work.

  40. why not? has it not been proven that jonathan martin has been proven to be a headcase?

  41. I can forgive a guy for letting his emotions get away from him at his father’s funeral.

  42. to quote Richard Sherman when asked about whether Bosa would have trouble playing in SF due to his outspoken political beliefs…”Can he play? if he can, who cares.” If Incognito can play, no one will care about his past….if he can’t, then they will. He is being hired to play football, not be a guidance counselor.

  43. “Regardless of whatever motivation the Raiders may have had, teams should exercise greater discretion when embracing players with checkered pasts.”

    While this is a true statement its even more true that teams should exercise greater discretion when embracing players that have experienced multiple concussions before and have been exhibiting a lot of behavior that suggests CTE damage. You have to question whether its right to send a guy like that out for more punishment. IDC how tough he is.

  44. Yes he should get unlimited chances to make a living doing what he does best. You can’t stop a person from making a living simply because he is a hot headed jerk.

  45. This should be an automatic disqualifier:
    “Later that month, Incognito was arrested for threatening to shoot employees at a funeral home, while making arrangements following the death of his father. Police found two Glocks, three rifles, and a silencer in Incognito’s car.”

    Sounds pretty unstable to me. So when this clown goes off the deep end, you supporters on here will be posting “didn’t see that coming”!

  46. I wish Miami would of gotten him to come back. Martin was the person that made that whole issue into what it was. He is still s top 20 OG in the league and is a mauler which is what any team needs on the OL. He will make the pro bowl again. Good pick up by Gruden

  47. Who decides when to stop signing non-perfect human’s? There is a long, long list of shady characters in pro sports. I think America has kind of developed thick skin with regards to what we’re willing to put with as far as character goes. Incognito doesn’t even concern me one bit. If he does something stupid and gets kicked off the team, it’s next man up.

  48. Since Gruden’s been hired:

    cut Pro-bowl punter…don’t even try to keep Mack…trade for selfish, team cancer, A.B., give A.B. too much money…and now sign documented, nutcase Incognito.

    I don’t know what thier strategy is, but it seems like it is something other than winning.

  49. I find it disturbing that so many people have it out for Incognito for saying stupid stuff while ignoring women abusers, child abusers and criminals.

  50. Incognito is definitely unstable has had his 3 strikes long ago, but the root problem lies with the NFL. Their primary (unstated) goals are to protect their image and make money – period. They do not care about getting rid of players that pose a risk to themselves and others. Nor do they care about pursuing justice, or doing the right thing for human beings. This would be a major shift that has to be forced upon them by someone with a bigger stick. Unfortunately, that person is just as shady and self-serving. Welcome back, Richie – hope you make the Raiders proud!

  51. finzfan49 says:
    May 29, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    He is still s top 20 OG in the league
    ————————————————————————————
    How can anyone know that? He hasn’t played in ages.

  52. I have to admit, it would be good for the NFL to see the Raiders competing and actually winning with this band of misfits.

    As far as Incognito. Hes got issues. He did get railroaded in that overblown bully thing in Miami though.

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