Offensive lineman Richie Incognito, last with the Buffalo Bills, retired before the 2018 season and said his liver and kidneys were “shutting down.” Today the Oakland Raiders convinced him to return to football and take a one-year, prove-it deal. What that means is that if the signing doesn’t work out, the team can release, with minimal penalty, a man who for his own health probably shouldn’t be playing football. If it does work out, the team can underpay a man who for his own health probably shouldn’t be playing football.
At today’s practice, Raiders GM Mike Mayock defended the signing of Incognito. Hey, when it comes to putting together a football roster, they can’t all be winners, or even just not racist:
Since Incognito last played in the NFL, he has picked a public fight with the Minnesota Vikings after they denied interest in signing him; had a meltdown at a gym which resulted in police being called and the lineman being placed in involuntary psychiatric hold; threatened employees at a funeral home because he reportedly wanted to cut off his dead father’s head for research purposes; and cited his failing internal organs as a reason for retirement. That’s not including his involvement in the Miami Dolphins’ infamous bullying scandal or his generally nasty play on the field.
Surely there were and are a few other free-agent offensive linemen who could play at the same level as the soon-to-be 36-year-old Incognito, but Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden seem to be suckers for name-brand recognition. It doesn’t speak to the quality of the Raiders’ roster that the guy who hasn’t played in 18 months—and whose body might be the least of his worries—is already taking first-team reps.