After missing an entire NFL season because of reasons that totally weren’t collusion among NFL owners, Richie Incognito is back. He is in training camp with the Bills, and last week was named the starting left guard by Rex Ryan.
Incognito sat down for a Newsday profile yesterday, seemingly in an attempt to repair his toxic image. He says that he is a changed man, but offers no examples of how he has changed other than being more conscious about what he says in the locker room, and added “but I think personality-wise, I’m still the same.” He also thinks that the media “took certain things and kind of ran with it about the bullying thing,” which is a peculiar argument considering that we can read about all of the absolutely vile and heinous shit he said to other human beings.
Where Incognito began to make sense is when he talked about how the NFL investigates misconduct, and compared his case to Tom Brady’s. He accuses Ted Wells, the NFL’s go to scandal investigator, of not being independent:
“I just think it’s bogus, the whole system in how it’s set up with Roger and the complete, absolute power he has,” Incognito said. “He has so much power and he hires independent investigators who come in and are obviously not independent. They come in with an agenda and they come in looking to find facts to back up their argument. All the facts are slanted in their favor.
And he has a problem with Roger Goodell imposing discipline, and then hearing the appeals of the discipline that he imposed:
“I think with Roger, with so much power, just keeps fumbling over independent investigations and making everything public,” he said. “I think it just needs to be a more concise system. Roger can’t be the judge, jury and executioner on this thing. I understand league discipline.
Richie Incognito isn’t the most sympathetic of characters, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong here. Increasingly, it seems that the NFL outsources investigations of misconduct to Wells not to get a completely fair investigation, but to give its punishment a heightened sheen of legitimacy, and it’s apparent to everybody but the NFL that Roger Goodell hearing appeals when his own conduct is at issue is problematic.
Incognito wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last, to complain about how the NFL hands down punishment, yet little has changed. The question now is whether a federal judge will make things change.