NFL Wrongly Clears The Way For Richie Incognito’s Return

Richie Incognito

Depleted as they may be at the offensive guard spot, can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers really be this desperate?

Desperate enough to seriously consider teaming themselves with a man more known for tearing locker rooms asunder than rescuing any of the units he’s played on over the course of his eight-year NFL career?

Word is the Bucs now have notorious bad boy and habitual hazer Richie Incognito on their radar and perhaps directly designated for a spot on their roster. Earlier this week, the league cleared the NFL’s version of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man for “full activity and regular-season game participation,” and before you could say ‘Johnathan who,’ the Bucs were one of as many as five teams rumored to be potentially interested in engaging him.

For sure, anyone who follows the NFL on even the most basic of levels surely knows more about the ways and character of Richie Incognito than you probably ever cared to. But in the end, the facts are the facts.

Incognito so mercilessly hazed and bullied Miami teammate Jonathan Martin last year that the 25-year-old, second year player bolted from the Dolphins locker room straight to the security of a shrink’s chair, all in a prayerful plea to deal with all the emotional garbage Incognito heaped on him to no end. Be it racial or homophobic slurs, none of it was too low for Richie Incognito to go in displaying his vile wickedness.

The Dolphins ultimately suspended Incognito for the last eight games of the season for what in many ways amounted to unfathomable insubordination, and still this week he found himself in the cushy confines of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive offices interviewing for his job of a lifetime.

“To me, nobody should have a death sentence,” reasoned Bucs coach Lovie Smith. “What does it hurt to talk to someone? For me, as we go forward, I’m not holier-than-thou. I’m going to give everybody the benefit of the doubt until I have information that tells me otherwise.”

But how much more information do the Bucs even the really need? Prior to his meltdown in Miami and while he was still a member of the St. Louis Rams, Incognito was benched by coaches for his undisciplined play and in 2009 voted the league’s “dirtiest player” in a Sporting News poll. Several other on-field skirmishes aside, while in college, Incognito was also dropped from both the Nebraska and Oregon programs for violation of various team rules.

But hey, the ends justify the means, and guys grimy enough to start in all 102 of the NFL games they’ve played in don’t come along every day, no matter how much baggage they carry with them. At least, that’s what the Bucs now seem to want you to believe.

“I’m going on the facts right now,” said Smith said. “The facts are we’re bringing him in for a visit. Would I have a football player on our football team that I thought would mess up our team chemistry? The answer is no, simple as that. But I can’t assume that’s the case. To me, as you go through the process, you look and you talk face to face with everybody that’s available. I can’t go on hearsay. I would like to talk to him myself.  I believe in second chances.”

The thing is, Richie Incognito is on chance number infinity, or at least it seems that way. How many more will we need him to massacre before we finally get the message?

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.