Depending when you read this, the Raiders could see a new guard walk through the door of their Alameda facility. According to multiple reports, Richie Incognito visited the team for a workout. Now, regardless of what you think of the offensive line situation, Oakland could pursue better options. Here is why the mere thought of signing him.
During Jack Del Rio’s final days in Oakland, he lost control of the team. Fractures appeared within the foundation of team. With the arrival of Jon Gruden, many thought these days were gone. Yet, by potentially signing Incognito, the Raiders will forfeit any moral high ground that they originally enjoyed following a rather successful draft. In Year 2, Gruden needs to solidify the locker room with a mix of strong leaders and exceptional rookies. Incognito checks none of these boxes.
If you live under a rock or lack access to Google, what you will read could seem like a pile-on or a surprise. From the moment, Incognito stepped on the field at the University of Nebraska, he could not control his maniacal temper or irrational behavior. Now, we all understand that football is a sports based on controlled violence. The important word in the previous sentence is controlled , which Incognito repetedly fails to display.
If the name Jonathan Martin rings a bell, Richie Incognito’s handprints reside all over this story. Martin, the former Dolphins/49ers linemen played alongside Incognito during the 2012-2013 seasons. Incognito, in all honesty, tortured Incognito. From hateful text and bigoted messages, Martin suffered. More importantly, who lives to inflict pain on a teammate? Rhetorical. You know damn well, Incognito thrived in a lawless environment where coaches let anything occur. Granted, you will see the Mike Pounceys of the world vouch for Incognito. These are the same people that issued him the pass that afford him the N-word. No, no, no. I do not care who the person is, or how strong a friendship becomes, that word, cannot be extended.
During his stay in Miami, Incognito treated staff with the disrespect befitting his low station in life. Below, is an excerpt from the Wells Report. Warning: the text contains racist and vile comments.
The Assistant Trainer was born in Japan and attended university there through 2001, before emigrating to the United States. Martin said that Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey directed racial slurs at the Assistant Trainer, calling him a “Jap,” a “Chinaman” and a “chink”; referred to him as a “dirty communist” or a “North Korean”; made demands such as “give me some water you fucking chink”; spoke to him in a phony, mocking Asian accent, including asking for “rubby rubby sucky sucky”; and called his mother a “rub and tug masseuse.”
The Raiders enjoy a reputation for treating their training and administarive staff with class and like a family. As a result, signing Incognito places this reputation in jeopardy.
Mental Health Issues
In football, as in life, mental health remains an underreported and important facet of the human condition. Richie Incognito’s mental health pass dos not fit what the Okaland Raiders look to build with. First,look at his recent past. On May 23, 2018, Incognito was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold. That is to say, someone in a position of authority deemed him a danger to society and himself. Less than a year later, Jon Gruden and the Raiders invite him for a tryout? By the way, the reason for the psych hold was that Incognito threw a weight at a fellow gym patron and displayed paranoid tendencies. Do the Raiders actually want to sign a player in this frame of mind? From the Wells Report:
According to Incognito, Martin’s departure from the Dolphins should be attributed to pre-existing mental health problems, alcohol and drug use and/or concerns about poor performance on the field. Martin has candidly acknowledged wrestling with all of these issues, and his text messages and other evidence demonstrate that these are real factors, not issues Incognito has manufactured out of whole cloth.”
Once upon a time, the familiar Raiders refrain stood at “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”. For years, Sports Illustrated conducted a yearly, anonymous poll of players. They voted Incognito the dirtiest player in the league. What fans of his potential signing forget is this: think about Derek Carr. If Incognito takes liberties with defensive linemen, what happens when they reach Carr? Someone will take out their frustrations on him. Why expose Carr to this?
The Oakland Raiders enjoy one of the strongest, most vocal fanbases in all of sports. Every fan wants to win. Yet, some will ignore Incognito’s violent, unbalanced past, in order to win. If you peruse social media, people began to cashing in moral collateral for a Super Bowl. Excusing racism, abuse, or dirty play is not, and will never be what fans should aspire to. Additionally, can we stop with the “ in the good ol’ days” Those days are over. Now is not then. While we can appreciate the past, dwelling within it serves no one. Conditional tolerance of ugly behavior is starting to surface. Winning is important, but not sacrificing decency remains king. If cheering for a player that showed bigotry is your brand, climb from under your rock and saddle up to the TV.
Truth and Reconciliation
If the Raiders sign Richie Incognito, it will send mixed messages. Throughout the draft process, Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock preached character, first and foremost. Smoke weed? Nope, stay away. Yet, a player with an ugly history. The fans, legacy, and more importantly, the team deserves better than Richie Incognito.