Las Vegas Raiders' Richie Incognito Worth the Gamble
It has been a year since Las Vegas Raiders General Manager Mike Mayock gave former Pro Bowler Richie Incognito a one-year, prove-it deal.
Many around the league criticized a deal, as Incognito had multiple on and off-field incidents, leading to suspensions and arrests.
Knowing of Incognito's recent troubles, Mayock made sure he contacted coaches and people around Incognito to ensure he was in a stable mindset before returning to the field.
"We've done a lot of homework on him," Mayock said. "I've known some of the line coaches he's played for. Several of his stops, I've called people around the league. I feel comfortable that he's going to compete on the field. And I feel comfortable that he wants to compete off the field and we're going to provide the infrastructure for him. At the end of the day, I think it's a two-way street. We've got to help him help himself."
We know that if there's one team out there to give players a second chance, the Raiders would be right there.
Incognito would go on to play 12 games for the Silver and Black.
Despite missing four games, serving a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, and two games because of an ankle injury, he accounted for eight penalties and allowed one sack in 766 snaps.
Pro Football Focus gave him 74.0 grade, which ranked in the top-tier of guards last season.
His great efforts and performance on and off the field earned him a two-year extension, worth nearly 14 million dollars.
"To get Incognito for two more years is big for us," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said in his end-of-season media conference. "He's a leader on this team, he's an excellent player, he has a lot of life in his legs and his body. He has a passion to still keep going. We think he's one of the best interior players in football."
The Raiders' risk had paid off, as Incognito had been away from trouble on and off the field.
Although he has made a remarkable change in his life and football career, Incognito's career had been tainted with a negative reputation. To his credit, he is moving past that.
Incognito's persona of a bad guy started in college while playing at the University of Nebraska. He was often picking fights with opposing players and students on campus.
He would be kicked-off Nebraska's football team for violating personal conduct rules.
He would then transfer to the University of Oregon, where he would get kicked off the team before playing any snaps.
Those incidents didn't stop the St. Louis Rams from drafting him in the third-round (81st overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft, hoping he could bring some of that toughness to the team.
But Incognito was let go by the Rams in 2008 due to his anger issues.
A year after being released by the Rams, the Buffalo Bills signed him on a one-year deal.
In 2010, the Miami Dolphins gave Incognito a chance, signing him for three-years. In 2012, he would earn his first Pro Bowl selection.
In 2013, the NFL found Incognito guilty of bullying and directing racial slurs towards teammate Jonathan Martin. Following the investigation, the Dolphins would suspend Incognito indefinitely for the 2014 season.
In 2015, the Bills came back in the picture, giving Incognito another chance. He played the best football of his career, earning three Pro Bowl selections in as many seasons at Buffalo.
At the end of the 2017 season, he had called it quits and semi-retired from football.
Being away from football didn't serve well for Incognito. He was not in the right state of mind. His actions of mixing drugs and alcohol, not eating well, and lack of sleep were a recipe for destruction.
In May 2018, he was arrested at a South Beach Florida gym after harassing a member at the gym.
Three months later, he would be arrested in Scottsdale, Ariz., because of a haggle over funeral arrangements for his father, who had recently passed away.
"When he is right, he is one of the best in football," Gruden said. "This is something he's thought about a lot; he walked away from the game for very good reasons, I'm not going to get into that. But we like where he is, we like what he has done, and we like the potential of what he can be."
The Raiders have given Incognito a haven, surrounding him with great players and coaches. He has taken the responsibility to help and protect Derek Carr and shown his veteran presence inside the locker room.
As he turns 37, this opportunity to change his reputation might be his last, and so far we can see he is doing his best to change that.
Richie Incognito has proven he is a great football player. Perhaps his most significant achievement so far has been his ability to change.
On his current path, he doesn't need to redefine his talent. He is doing a great job at showing everyone that as hard as he has worked on football, his dedication to improving his character is most impressive. We all can admire and learn from that.
Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
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