Buffalo Bills' pickup of Incognito far from inconspicuous
High-risk, high-reward move a smart play
Bills Head Coach Rex Ryan made it known that he wants to “build a bully” with his new team.
With the signing of Richie Incognito, it’s clear that Ryan means business.
Incognito, a veteran offensive guard who has made the Pro Bowl as recently as 2012, is unfortunately equally experienced in bullying and brutish behavior on the field and in the locker room.
Suspended from the league in 2013 for his infamous bullying of then-teammate Jonathan Martin to such extreme that he ended up leaving the team, Incognito has been benched for head-butting, arrested for assault, suspended and ejected from games for fighting and sent to anger management treatment (clearly, it didn’t take).
That list could be far longer, but the point is made: Incognito plays dirty. He’s a liability, in terms of racking up penalty yards during games and causing distractions off the field.
But if Incognito can get his act together, and if the Bills coaching staff can keep him in line – those are two gigantic “ifs” – this could end up helping the team enormously.
Sure, the move isn’t great for the team’s image, but the Bills already have a reputation for picking up so-called “troubled” players – Marcell Dareus, Terrell Owens – and so do plenty of other teams. Michael Vick is still an NFL quarterback, after all.
So although Incognito – and other violent, dirty players – arguably don’t deserve another chance, they’re on the field anyway.
And because Incognito’s going to be allowed back in the league, the Bills might as well take advantage of a talented athlete at a great price.
When it comes down to it: The NFL is just a business.
If it won’t cause too much of a public relations firestorm, the league is going to let players with questionable pasts continue to play.
Incognito didn’t beat his child or punch a woman in the face (though he has been accused of groping a female volunteer at a golf tournament), so to the powers that be, he’s not the worst of the bunch.
His anger issues, his use of racial and homophobic language, his time spent in psychiatric care – somehow the league has deemed it acceptable to look past all that and give the man another chance.
That decision can be debated and derided endlessly, but Incognito is now a Buffalo Bill and he could be a boon to a struggling team.
Incognito has to know that this is his last chance. He has to accept that it’s time to stop throwing punches and slurs.
If he can just do his job, he can be a standout player on the field. His teammates could benefit from the presence of a veteran player.
But the Bills coaching staff has to do its job, too. Incognito needs to be made aware – and kept aware – that there is no tolerance for misbehavior and violence.
A 31-year-old shouldn’t need extensive supervision and guidance, but Incognito clearly does, and the Bills need to provide that.
And if they can’t, Ryan has to be ready to cut Incognito without hesitation.
Buffalo is already known for its Super Bowl losses and its inability to draft an effective quarterback. They need to become known for nurturing talent, not dirty players.