What kind of culture are the Raiders building after the addition of Richie Incognito? How does this man have any job, let alone the privilege of playing for the Shield (whatever that means)?
Dust hasn’t even settled on dude signing with the team after being out a year and news breaks that dude plead guilty to two misdemeanors from an incident where he punched a hole in his 90-year-old Grandma’s wall and ripped out her security camera.
Don’t forget he also made threats at a funeral home after the death of his father which he also plead guilty to. There is also the public incident at the gym and beef with the Vikings last year. That’s on top of the racial slurs, bullying and all around bad reputation that already surrounds Incognito like a black rain cloud.
Incognito is barely staying in the league, so why is he apart of the Raiders developing culture?
Yes I know, the Raiders have traditionally taken chances on guys no one wanted. They’ve employed their fair share of assholes, outlaws and renegades in their history and I’m well aware it paid off. I’m also aware their not the only ones employing criminals in the NFL doing it currently.
However, the Assassin, the Snake, Casper, Ray Guy, Tom Flores, John Madden, Al Davis, Dr. Death and no one else from the Glory Days of the Bad Asses or L.A. Raiders are walking through that door! Even if they were, I’m not sure they’d be happy to see Incognito. If they were it would probably be to knock the piss out him for racist comments and treating people bad.
Incognito’s addition is disrespect even to that old culture. The Silver and Black shouldn’t be so desperate for winning and old vibes as they’re supposed to building a culture. They should be protecting their young and developing lockerroom from influences like Incognito not exposing them to even more chaos and off-field unprofessionalism.
We’re in 2019. I don’t have to tell you how workplace conduct and societal norms have changed even since Gruden was at the head in the early Y2K days.
The Raiders don’t have to look far to see how nostalgia dies hard.
Just look at their dated offense last year, their technology a few years ago, their stadium, their figurehead’s haircuts etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the renegade and outlaw attitude that is part of the Raiders brand and why so many of us are defined as RaiderNation. Still, what message does this send to players in the Locker Room, future free agents and developing young players?
Before the draft, Raiders GM Mike Mayock talked about how he and head coach Jon Gruden will work to define what makes a Raider. He gave the same song and dance about changing the culture and finding players who really love football and winning.
After the draft, many NFL brass applauded Mayock and the Raiders for finding valuable players with production and character throughout the draft. Many said it proved the Raiders were looking to change the culture by adding players from the National Title game and prospects who excelled at the Senior Bowl versus prior drafts were they took a lot of risks on developmental talents.
Why would you want to introduce Incognito to that culture that is still brewing and seeding? Why risk tainting and undercutting this culture before it even blooms?
You also got to factor in Antonio Brown’s attention seeking social media, Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden’s thirst for helping out their media friends with quotes and sprinkle in Vontaze Burfict’s own questionable reputation. All of a sudden that vision and idea of a culture around winners becomes tainted.
So what do the Raiders value in their culture?
Is it media attention and clout courtesy of A.B., Mayock and Gruden? Or, winning courtesy of the new draft class as well as free agency class? Is it aggressiveness and tenacity via Burfict and Incognito? Perhaps money, since they gave marquee free agents Lamarcus Joyner and Trent Brown way more money than anyone else since they played above average for their respective Super Bowl teams? Is it nostalgia or chaos?
The answer is probably closer to all of the above. I mean we did coin the phrase “Just Win Baby!” to show the culture is about winning at all costs.
Either way, I’m not sure that holds up in 2019 when sports franchises are billion dollar companies.
Maybe it is time for a new mantra as the team moves into a new era that doesn’t even include playing in California anymore. Further, I don’t think even winning at all costs excuses the Raiders addition of Incognito. There are so many other free agents and rookies with a smaller rap sheet than Incognito. Why sign him, just because you can?
The Incognito addition is even more disrespectful considering the Raiders moved on from two staples of their dominant and once all black offensive line. Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele both had contracts that outweighed their current play and injury sheet. However, they were very good players and great examples of Raiders.
Now, Oakland is replacing their tenacity with Incognito’s craziness? C’mon! We also can’t forget that race and politics may have played a part in the team’s fall from grace in 2017.
Still, the Raiders are willing to risk that fallout again by bringing Incognito into a locker room that already features an incredibly young and developing defense. Don’t forget the two developing rookie tackles. Incognito lost his 2014 season for bullying young tackle Jonathan Martin.
Adding Incognito’s infamous personality is a fast way to divide the locker room.
It’s a fast way to upset players and show young players the wrong example. Sure, the adversity will test the Raiders players, brass, and culture but is the juice worth the squeeze?
Yes, I know he has also been to four Pro Bowls and paved the way for many outstanding running backs when he isn’t in trouble. He’s played multiple positions for multiple teams and has rarely missed time too. PFF also grades him above average for most of his career.
I also know that it is a low-risk move for the Raiders because they can basically let him go anytime as it is a one-year deal.
That still doesn’t excuse giving him a job.
I’m as desperate to win as anyone else who is a fan, but that doesn’t make this 35-year-old off-field liability is worth jeopardizing an entire culture that is already facing so much chaos before it is finalized.
Ultimately, Incognito’s signing raises more questions about what culture the Raiders are building.
His addition is the latest contradiction to what the Raiders say they value. Oakland adding Incognito seems more like taking what they can than trying to recapture the renegade and outlaw nostalgia.
The point is, Incognito probably doesn’t belong in the NFL and definitely doesn’t belong on a roster that is still building a culture. It’s bad precedent even for a team that has its own history of darkness and current drama.