• He unloaded on the Thursday night slate after last night’s loss to the Jets. And one day later, the Bills Pro Bowl offensive lineman is hammering away with the same criticisms he—and many players—have always had of TNF
By Albert Breer
November 03, 2017

Richie Incognito wasn’t feeling so hot when he called on Friday morning. But as he sees it, that only bolsters the point he was trying to make in the losing locker room on Thursday, after the Jets ran his Bills out of MetLife Stadium by a 34-21 count.

“I feel like dog----, but I had a rough go,” Incognito said on Friday morning. “I had to take some painkillers for my ankle (before the game) and then I got motion sick on the flight home. I got home at 2:45 a.m. and I couldn’t get to sleep, so I laid in bed until 6 a.m. So yeah, I’m working on three hours of sleep. That’s it. The short week got me. Short Week 1, Richie Incognito 0.

“And I do acknowledge the fact that I sound like a whiny b----. My phone’s been blowing up this morning—‘Why you pouting about Thursday?’ . . . Just give me seven days to prepare for the Jets!”

Like he said, the Buffalo Pro Bowler knows what you’re thinking. He’s a cranky 34-year-old whose team just beaten handily in a division game, and the first thing he does is give himself and his teammates a crutch.

The truth? Incognito says he’s felt like this about playing on Thursdays all along. It just happened to be highlighted this week, thanks to a convergence of factors that made him especially cranky about it after the game. First, Incognito hurt his ankle two Sundays ago against the Bucs, and played through that on Sunday against Oakland, then had to turn around play against four days later. Second, the Bills were the road team. Third, his team didn’t play well. But his stance, he says, is unchanged.

“I know I put myself at more risk, going out there on a short week on a hurt ankle,” Incognito said. “You take player safety and you throw it right out the window when you’ve got guys playing a tough game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday at 1 p.m., and four days later, at 8:30 on the road, you’re playing another physical game.

“So if you want to talk about player safety, you want to talk about concussions, you want to talk about all these initiatives, but we’re gonna throw all that stuff out the window and ignore it just so we can play Thursday night?”

And, Incognito explained, it’s not just the rest he missed. As it was, Wednesday was a travel day for the Bills. Had the Jets game been on Sunday, Incognito’s week would’ve looked like this: Soft-tissue work on Wednesday; Massage/treatment on Thursday; Massage/Pilates/IV/treatment on Friday; and more treatment before travel on Saturday.

“So I’m missing out on all these opportunities to get better just to wedge in there a commercially packaged Thursday night game.” As a result, he said, “You get to the Thursday game, and even the healthy guys, it’s just, ‘f---, let’s just get through this.’ And coaches don’t know whether to practice you or not practice you. It’s the struggle of, ‘Do we walk through, do we practice? Did we get enough looks? Is our gameplan too simple?’ It’s a nightmare.”

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And that brings us to the larger point I asked Incognito about, which involves the money, and the hard fact that the players get a percentage of what owners make, and owners make more because there’s an extra night of football during the week.

Incognito countered by citing the ratings, and made two points. First, he believes the “let’s just get through this” mentality makes the quality of play poor on Thursday nights. Second, he’s buying on the feeling that networks have expressed to the league, that the raw amount of football out there to be consumed is having an effect on the viewership.

“It’s money off the table on one end,” he said. “But that’s a double-edged sword. We’re experiencing a ratings decline, and it’s oversaturation of football. Take the Thursday slate away, put it all on Sunday. Yeah, they made a nice little TV package out of it, obviously they’re making a ton of money for it, and in reality it’s probably not going anywhere. So yeah, there’s probably no solution to this. I’m just saying that as a player, as a competitor, as someone that has to do this, it’s just a b----.”

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