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The controversy-filled career of guard Richie Incognito looks like it is coming to an end. We think.
On Tuesday morning, just after 10 a.m. ET, Peter King of The MMQB tweeted, Incognito “tells me he is strongly considering retiring. May return for one last season, at the right price.”
But less than 10 minutes later, it seemed “strongly considering” became a firm decision. Incognito tweeted to the NFL Players’ Association and its spokesman, George Atallah, “I’m done” with a tongue-out emoji.
And a few minutes after that, Buffalo News Bills reporter Vic Carucci tweeted that he’d spoken to Incognito and Incognito cited his health.
“I’m done, I’m done, that’s it,” Incognito told Carucci. “It’s been a long career. My liver and kidneys are shutting down. Nothing I can’t restore with some balance, but the stress is killing me.
“I went to a doctor’s appointment the other day and they said, ‘Listen, the stress is killing you, what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Listen, I’m just doing what I love and that’s playing football.’ So that’s why I’m done …
“I just want to be in the Hall of Fame. I think I’m there.”
Of course, this could all be some kind of ploy from Incognito to get more money, either from the Bills or another team, as King’s tweet alluded.
Incognito reportedly agreed to a pay cut last month, with ESPN’s Field Yates writing Incognito’s 2018 base salary dropped from $6.325 million to $3.65 million, though Incognito did get a $1 million bonus. The move gave Buffalo $1.675 million in salary cap space.
Last Thursday, Incognito apparently fired his agents via tweet, writing to the account of Athletes First, “You are Fired! I wish you guys nothing but the best moving forward. Thank you for all of your help and guidance along the the way. It’s time for me to go in a new direction.”
“It pisses me the ‘f’ off,” Incognito told Carucci of the drop in pay. “The contract and all that pissed me the ‘f’ off and all that, but (retiring) has nothing to do with that.”
Carucci asked Incognito if he would be changing his mind, and Incognito replied, “Absolutely not.”
UPDATE (1:15 p.m. ET): At least one of Incognito’s Buffalo teammates is making a public plea to get him to stay. Running back LeSean McCoy posted a photo of himself and Incognito together in their Pro Bowl uniforms on Instagram, asking him not to retire, and noting that center Eric Wood has also retired this offseason:
A post shared by shadymccoy (@shadymccoy) on Apr 10, 2018
The 34-year-old Incognito is a four-time Pro Bowler, including all three of his years in Buffalo. His career, stretching back to college, has been marked by controversy. At the University of Nebraska, he began bullying and fighting with teammates as a freshman, and was suspended from the team at least twice and charged with assault after a fight at a party; he eventually left Nebraska and transferred to Oregon, only to be cut from the team almost immediately.
Drafted by the Rams in the third round in 2005, the team cut ties with him after he head-butted two opposing players in 2009; he’d accumulated 38 penalties in four seasons. The Bills claimed him then, but released him after three games. This time, he was claimed by the Miami Dolphins.
With Miami, Incognito played well, and even was considered a leader on the offensive line – until he once again took things too far, bullying Jonathan Martin with taunts and racial slurs, among other things. During his suspension from the Dolphins – he was later released – it was discovered that he’d been accused of sexually harassing a volunteer at a golf tournament in 2012; Incognito paid a settlement to the accuser.
The Dolphins released Incognito, and he was out of the league for a year before then-Bills coach Rex Ryan signed him in Buffalo. In January, Jaguars pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue accused Incognito of using racial slurs against him during Jacksonville’s playoff game against Buffalo. Incognito said he approached Ngakoue at the Pro Bowl and apologized.
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