After a very long few weeks, I can report Richie Incognito has accepted professional help in wake of severe mental stress from Wells report.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 28, 2014
Incognito is currently being treated at a facility in Arizona after what has been some very stressful times for him & those closest to him.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) February 28, 2014
Incognito, portrayed as the primary instigator in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, recently took a baseball bat to the front of his Ferrari, valued at $295,000, and told police in Scottsdale, Ariz., that he was the one who did it.
"Oh that was just me venting, that was self expression, that's a piece of art," he told FoxPhoenix.com about the incident. "The happiest day of my life was when I got that car and now the second happiest day will be when I donate it to charity."
Incognito hasn't played in the NFL since early November, when he was suspended by the Dolphins indefinitely a few days after left tackle Jonathan Martin left the team, apparently distraught by Incognito's hostility and aggression in several forms -- in person, via text, and otherwise. The recently released Wells report paints a picture of Incognito as a man clearly out of control, Martin as a man unable to deal with someone of Incognito's ilk, and the Dolphins as an organization clearly incapable of dealing with (or even knowing about) such dysfunction.
This wouldn't be the first time Incognito, who was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft, has sought professional help. In a story written by Darlington in 2012, references are made to the "never-ending string of therapists [who] asked him how he was feeling, if he was sleeping enough or whether he was still smoking weed, [and] he would answer in whatever way would make those sessions end easiest."
They didn't know, for instance, that while he was rehabilitating an ankle injury during training camp with the St. Louis Rams in 2007, he was partying every night. They didn't know he was confused about life, about his rage, about his constant fights with teammates and coaches.
"I mean, we'd have practice the next morning, and I'm out until all hours of the night, running the town," Incognito said. "Drinking. Doing drugs. I was doing everything that a professional athlete should not be doing."
Incognito's history of inappropriate aggression goes back to his college days. In 2003, he was suspended indefinitely by Nebraska head coach Frank Solich after starting a fight in practice, and told to attend anger management classes at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan. He was found guilty of one count of misdemeanor assault for his role in a fight at a party in February 2004, and was suspended again by new head coach Bill Callahan for multiple violations of team rules. Nebraska had its fill of Incognito after he started a fight in the team's locker room, and he left the team and the school in mid-September.
"Right now nothing is for sure," Incognito said at that time, via USA Today. "I don't want to put anything in jeopardy by saying something. I'll say something about this eventually."
More revealing was a quote from Tim Green, a former Nebraska lineman and friend of Incognito's.
"I guarantee you'll hear from Richie Incognito again. Whether it's in college or the NFL, you haven't heard the last of Richie. The kid is an athlete and somebody will pick him up."
And that was exactly the case, because at one time Incognito had enough talent to make teams at several levels consider taking on all his attendant headaches. He transferred to Oregon after Callahan gave him complete freedom to do so, only to be booted out a week later for what head coach Mike Belotti said were violations of an agreement between the player and the school.
"There were conditions we had set down and set forth for him to be admitted to our program, and they were not met," Bellotti said in October 2004.
The issues continued through Incognito's NFL career; and well before the bullying scandal became public, he was clearly identified as perhaps the dirtiest player in the league. He racked up penalties and started fights with opponents at an alarming rate, even after he claimed to be past his prior problems. Released by the Rams in 2009 after he was flagged for three personal fouls in a single game, he was signed and quickly dumped by the Buffalo Bills before the Dolphins took him on. He started all but one game for Miami between 2010 and '12 and made the Pro Bowl in that third season. He was also co-nominated for the team's "Good Guy" award along with running back Reggie Bush, given to the player most cooperative with the media. His personal fouls started to go down, and it appeared on the surface that Incognito might have finally turned a corner.
However, things were clearly brewing beneath that surface.
In May 2012, Incognito was accused of making inappropriate sexual and harassing gestures and actions toward a female volunteer at a team charity golf tournament.
The then 34-year-old volunteer told police that Incognito had been drinking, and when he was at the hole where she was working, he rubbed her privates with a golf club and knocked a pair of sunglasses off her head with it, according to the report.
"After that, he proceeded to lean up against her buttocks with his private parts as if dancing, saying 'Let it rain! Let it rain!'" the report states. "He finally finished his inappropriate behavior by emptying bottled water in her face."
The volunteer informed her supervisor, who contacted Miami Dolphins security, police say. The team's security said they would handle the incident.
The volunteer told police several people, including a sponsor of the event, saw Incognito's actions but didn't stop him.
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin has said since that the team was aware of the incident and took "appropriate action" to discipline Incognito, though the nature of that supposed discipline has not been revealed. What we do know is that in the wake of all this damage, Incognito's own teammates voted him on the Dolphins' Leadership Council, which gave him virtually unlimited authority to torment anyone he wanted in the locker room without hindrance. It's not known whether Incognito's most recent attempt to get help is something that will actually change him. But a corresponding course of action would seem to be that whatever team next takes him on should actually provide some sort of structure for an individual who has dealt with antisocial (and at times sociopathic) behavior for more than a decade.