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Monday, 9 February 2015

The Bully Era In Buffalo Has Officially Begun

If you look up the meaning of incognito, it will basically revolve around concealing an identity, not wanting to be seen or noticed. It represents being low key and out of sight, so that people you know won't recognize you and not drawing attention from those who don't know you already. So far, Richie has done anything but live up to his last name. There is something about the bad guy that captures the attention of many. The sense of freedom they exude makes the Average Joe wish they had the same confidence to do as they please. For as much as the bad guy is exiled, they are praised and unintentional role models for many, especially the younger generation looking to make their mark in the world's history. Richie Incognito has gotten himself into a lot of trouble for his actions, as initially evidenced by him being dismissed from two college football programs, Nebraska and The University Of Oregon, both consistently wielding great teams year in and year out. His troubles have carried over into the NFL as well.

Incognito during his short stint in Buffalo

His most recent troubles came with the Miami Dolphins with the well-documented bullying scandal against former teammate Jonathan Martin, effectively taking Incognito out of football for roughly a year and a half. Richie also played for the Rams and also did have a short sting in Buffalo. In the 2006 season, the St. Louis Rams did not make the playoffs, finishing at 8-8, but that year, he played all 16 games and helped the offensive line do something only done three other times previously in NFL history: have a 1,500 yard rusher (Stephen Jackson), two 1,000 yard receivers(Torry Holt & Isaac Bruce) as well as a 4,000 yard passer (Marc Bulger). Unfortunately, Incognito wasn't much more use to his team after that season. In 2009, he was penalized 38 times, with seven of them being for unnecessary roughness. This was a big part of him earning the title of Dirtiest Player in the league by his peers.

The Buffalo Bills took a chance on him and though he started for them and played well, he did not make a strong enough impression to be asked to return. The Miami Dolphins took a chance on him in 2010 and he played well. He ranked among the top 20 in offensive lineman and in 2010 and in 2011, only allowed 1.5 sacks. How about this for irony: in 2012, he was given a Good Guy Award in 2012 for his cooperativeness in dealing with the media. He even made his first and only Pro Bowl.  In that same year, there was a report about him sexually harassing a female volunteer at the Dolphins' annual golf tournament. The issue was settled out of court and not addressed publicly by Miami. This incident is far more troubling than his horrible interactions with Jonathan Martin. No one deserves to be bullied or talked down to, but to have the incident with the young lady not coming to any real resolution is quite troubling. With the NFL having the Ray Rice situation having many question how thorough it handles situations when a woman is violated, this could raise even more concern for teams to even want to take a chance on him and have that kind of bad media attention on them. 

Rex Ryan at his press conference

No one is perfect, in fact some of the people that make a huge difference for the better in the world have less than exemplary beginnings. When utilized properly, the second chance can be the most inspirational thing for those that fall short of the glory. People don't like to be preached at when seeking redemption, rather looking to be comforted and guided by those who have been in a similar position. For Richie Incognito, this could very well be his last second chance. Professional sports is always looking for talent, even if it does come with some extra baggage. For the last eighteen months, all 32 NFL teams thought Incognito had too much baggage to bring in his talent. Luckily for him, Rex Ryan is looking to turn a rising Buffalo Bills team into the most feared team in football. Ryan specifically used the word bully to foreshadow how his team will be playing in 2015. And the player most associated with that word is Incognito. Maybe Rex's strong personality will be able to harness the rage and unfiltered emotion, turning it into the productive player we've seen in flashes. With a hungry defense dedicated to winning, this can humble Richie Incognito to deliver that same message and fire to an offense that desperately needs it. There is however the cliche saying "Fool Me Once, Shame On You... Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me." If Buffalo once didn't see fit to keep him, what do they see now that is different from 2009? Maybe not playing football has humbled Incognito. Maybe it has not. I am not going to pass judgment. I would be lying if I said I am not very concerned about him messing up the chemistry the Bills are building, especially with them finally acheiving a season with a winning record for the first time in years, but as Jack Nicholson said in Batman when he played the Joker "You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs." Here's hoping it's an omelette and not just egg in the face of the Buffalo Bills. 


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