Richie Incognito: Batter up

Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito may be looking to switch professions. After taking a Louisville Slugger to the hood of his $300,000 Ferrari, he may be searching for a future in the Big Leagues, because right now, his NFL career is looking worse than his beat up car.

For a guy with the last name Incognito, for the last four months he has been everything but unknown. Incognito’s name has been engraved in the headlines; I know no publicity is bad publicity, but it certainly has not looked good so far. Richie Incognito’s days as a Miami Dolphin might be numbered.

So if this is the last of Incognito, let’s take a look at his life and short career to see if we can find where he went wrong.

The year was 1983, Star Wars had just finished their last installment on their first trilogy with “Return of the Jedi”, the rock band Kiss made their first appearance with no makeup on MTV, and the final climax of the Cold War had just begun. Richie Incognito was born on July 5th, the day after our nation’s Independence Day, in rural Nebraska to father Richard Sr. and mother Donna. He was the oldest of two and grew up to become a high school football star at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona.

He was an All-American offensive lineman, and earned the Frank Kush Award, given to the best offensive lineman in Arizona. For college, he returned home to Nebraska and became the first Husker freshman offensive lineman to start in the season opener. He earned All-American status freshman year, and it looked as if he would have a great college career, but Incognito stepped to the plate, into the batters box, and in comes strike one.

During his second game, against Troy State, he was accused of spitting on a Troy State player. Two weeks later, he was ejected for picking a fight in a blowout loss to Penn State, and the problems continued rolling in.

In the spring of 2003, after a fight in practice, he was sent to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas for anger management treatment. He eventually started 13 games that season and was awarded a first team All-Big 12 selection, but soon after the trouble continued.

In February 2004, Incognito was involved in a fight at a party and was charged with three counts of assault, and after switching to center, and being a favorite for the Remington Trophy, on September 1st he was suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of team rules.

Later that same September, he transferred to the University of Oregon; however, he never played in a game, due to failing to meet team agreed conditions.

Incognito impressed scouts at the 2005 NFL combine, being named “the strongest and most explosive player in attendance”, but he managed to sprain his knee during one of the drills. However, it was his off-field antics that caused him to drop in the draft.

The St. Louis Rams drafted Richie Incognito in the third round as the 81st overall pick. He did not play in a single game his first season with the team, due to a non-football injury, but in his second season he started all 16 games at three different positions, and blocked for an offense which produced a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,500-yard rusher, and two 1,000-yard receivers, one of only four offenses in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

However, despite his accomplishment on the field, trouble continued to follow him off. He was accused of partying too often and getting into fights with coaches and teammates, but the last straw was when his problems started to affect him on the field. The NFL fined Richie Incognito $50,000 and sent him a letter, warning him that “future infractions of the types you have committed may lead to increased disciplinary action up to and including suspension.” In four years with the Rams from 2006 to 2009, Incognito drew 38 penalties, including seven unnecessary roughness calls, more than any other player during that span.

Incognito was released on waivers from the St. Louis Rams and became a Buffalo Bill for a quick stint. In the offseason the Bills declined to re-sign him, and the Miami Dolphins were next in line to give him a shot.

In 2010, Incognito started all 16 games and was ranked in the Top 20 for Pass Blocking Efficiency, but during the Dolphins’ annual celebrity golf tournament at the Isle Resort and Club in Aventura, Florida, a drunken Incognito continued in his old ways.

He was accused with sexually harassing a female volunteer at the club; it was reported that he rubbed her private parts with a golf club, pressed his private parts against her buttocks and threw water in her face. Incognito never personally apologized, but the matter was later settled after she signed a confidentiality agreement.

And now, of course, On November 3, 2013, the Dolphins suspended Incognito for alleged misconduct related to the treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin. The suspension was eventually lifted, but the tension remains high between the team, Martin, and Incognito.

After batting practice with his $300,000 car, Incognito told Fox 10 in Scottsdale, Arizona, “Oh that was that was just me venting, that was self expression, that’s a piece of art.” Incognito recently checked himself into an Arizona facility for treatment.

The New England Patriots caught a lot of flack when news came out about Aaron Hernandez; the media was jumping all over the Patriots’ front office, asking how they could be so blind and not see any signs regarding Hernandez’s problems, but the Dolphins should be receiving the same blame for Richie Incognito, maybe even more. This guy has gotten into trouble everywhere he has been; he is known to be one of NFL’s dirtiest players, but he keeps on getting second chances.

College was strike one, the pros were strike two, and now this legal matter with Jonathan Martin is strike three. Richie Incognito, I don’t know if you know the rules of baseball, but three strikes means you’re out.

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