Despite missing a year-and-a-half of his NFL career following an investigation into bullying behavior and verbal insults that crossed a line, Richie Incognito continued to use offensive language in the Buffalo Bills’ locker room during his final three seasons with the team. That, according to Tim Graham—formerly of The Buffalo News and now reporting for The Athletic—who made the claim this week on “The Nick and Nolan Show”, a podcast on the Buffalo Rumblings Podcast Network.
In 2013, Incognito was suspended by the Miami Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team after fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin accused him of bullying, using his influence and cruel language to belittle Martin. Allegations included racist language including at least one documented racial slur, physical threats against Martin and his family, and even threatening to kill Martin. Incognito and other members of the offensive line were also accused of bullying another unnamed Dolphins lineman and a member of the training staff.
Incognito was suspended for eight games. He admitted his wrongdoing after spending time in treatment, but sat out the 2014 season as no team was willing to sign the talented offensive lineman due to the allegations.
In 2015, then-Bills coach Rex Ryan vouched for Incognito and he was signed by Buffalo. He became a locker room, media, and fan favorite. He re-signed with Buffalo the following offseason on a three-year deal, but he retired after three Pro Bowl seasons with the Bills.
It’s during this three-year stretch with the Buffalo Bills that Graham indicates Incognito’s offensive behavior continued.
“Richie Incognito was a member of the Buffalo Bills and a very popular member of the Buffalo Bills, at the time especially,” says Graham. “People, if I say these things I’m about to say, would probably say ‘what would there be to gain for me to have said these things?’ This is a guy who really believed that he didn’t do anything wrong with Jonathan Martin. In his mind, I can get to a place where I kind of agree with that. In Richie Incognito’s mind, everything is like a roast like you see on Comedy Central. It’s like no holds barred.”
Graham was a sports enterprise reporter for The Buffalo News during Incognito’s second stint in Buffalo. (Incognito previously played briefly in Buffalo in 2009.) While he didn’t cover the beat on a daily basis, he was in and around the locker room consistently.
“Even after everything that happened with the Dolphins and Jonathan Martin, the NFL investigation and everything, the things that he would say in the locker room, reporters would look at each other like ‘does this guy not learn?’ Different profanities, using homophobic language, this, that...”
In January of 2018, Incognito was accused of using racial slurs during a playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue took to Twitter following the game to make the accusation and directly referenced Martin. Incognito’s teammates immediately came to his defense. Incognito and Ngakoue cleared the air at the Pro Bowl and despite a months-long NFL investigation, nothing came from the comments with Incognito out of football during the 2018 season.
Graham goes on to discuss whether or not the information should have been reported at the time. He says maybe there is some regret that he didn’t, but explains why.
“Would that have been a newsworthy story to say ‘this is what Richie Incognito is saying in what he believes is the sanctity of his locker room’? Had anybody written that story at the time, it would have been ‘STFU’ and ‘leave him alone’ or ‘you’re just a social justice warrior’ [from the fans]. I mention this now and there’s probably some people who wonder why it wasn’t reported at the time. Because he’s not on the team and now he’s run into other troubles and people are done with him and he quit on the Bills and he wanted to renege on a contract [restructure] that he redid.”
After negotiating a contract re-structure in 2018 where he lost money, Incognito publicly fired his agent and called out the team and subsequently retired. During the separation process, the Bills hired extra security in case Incognito decided to come to the facility and be disruptive, according to the Associated Press.
This offseason, Incognito came out of retirement to sign with the Oakland Raiders at age 36. He was suspended in July for two games this upcoming season following a pair of incidents during his year away from the NFL. First, he was arrested and sent to a mental health institution in May 2018 following an incident at a training facility where he threw weights at patrons and ripped apart a boxing mannequin while spouting threats and saying he was working for the NSA. In August 2018, he threatened employees at a mortuary while planning the services for his father’s funeral because they wouldn’t let him take his father’s head.
You can listen to the entire wide-ranging interview with Tim Graham on “The Nick and Nolan Show” using the embedded audio below or download it in your favorite podcast app. (If you’re using Apple News, the audio will be stripped out of the article and you’ll need to click through using your web browser.) You should go listen right now.