A Buccaneers team official told ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas that they will be hosting former Dolphins Guard Richie Incognito and that they “are doing their due diligence and a signing isnt necessarily imminent.” For those who don’t know who Richie Incognito is, please allow me to update you. An NFL investigation last year determined that Incognito and two other Dolphin’s teammates (Mike Pouncey and John Jerry) engaged in persistent harrassment of teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October. Incognito was suspended and missed the final eight games of the season. He became a free agent when his contract with the Dolphins expired at the end of the 2014 season. Richie Incognito is 31-years old and has played 102 games in which he has started all of them during his eight seasons with the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and St. Louis Rams.
During an interview with Jay Glazer last November, Incognito commented on the bullying scandal: (via bleacherrepot.com)
“I’m not a racist. And to judge me by that one word is wrong. In no way shape or form is it ever acceptable for me to use that word even if it’s friend to friend on a voicemail. I regret that. My actions were coming from a place of love. No matter how bad and how vulgar it sounds, that’s how we communicate, that’s how our friendship was, and those are the facts and that’s what I’m accountable for.”
Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith said on Monday: “To me, nobody should have a death sentence. If you should, you’re probably in jail,” he said. “From there, what does it hurt to talk to someone? For me, as we go forward, I’m not holier than thou. I’m going to give everybody the benefit of the doubt until I have information that tells me otherwise.” When asked how Incognito would affect the locker room in Tampa Bay if signed, DT Gerald McCoy said “I don’t care. As long as he can help us win, that’s all I’m concerned about. If there’s a problem, then we’ll deal with it accordingly but as long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing in the building, then I’m not concerned about anything else.” QB Josh McCown said, “No matter who it is, if anybody becomes an addition to our team, the thing that Lovie always talks about is embracing them and making them feel like one of us, we feel good about our locker room and feel good about the ability to add anybody and be able to embrace him and help him be a part of the Buccaneers.”
When pressed about his reasoning for bringing in Incognito for a visit, head coach Lovie Smith said: “I’m going on the facts right now. The facts are we’re bringing him in for a visit. So, guys, there’s nothing else for me to talk about or tell you from there. We evaluate all prospects. He’s a prospect and we’re looking at him.”
Tampa Bay has a serious need at the guard position, and with only a week to go before the regular season begins, it would seem like this matchup would make sense. It would fill an obvious hole at the position for the Bucs. It would also allow Incognito to move on from the past year of drama, to begin to rebuild his reputation and get his career back on track. However, will there be any costs? With a player like Incognito it’s incredibly difficult to predict. The best thing would be for him to learn from the past and seek to change his public perception.
Incognito doesn’t lack talent on the field, he certainly has plenty. But will his previous issues keep him from landing another job in the NFL, or will the Buccaneers give him a chance at redemption?
Tell us in the comment section below.