Richard Dominick Incognito Jr. (born July 5, 1983) is an American football guard for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League (NFL). Before playing for the NFL, he played college football for the University of Nebraska. Incognito was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft and played for them through the 2009 season. Incognito played for the Buffalo Bills during the 2009 season and the Miami Dolphins from 2010 to 2013. He currently plays for Buffalo.
High school career
Born in Englewood, New Jersey, Incognito grew up in nearby Bogota and moved to Glendale, Arizona as a pre-teen. Incognito played offense and defense at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, and served as a long snapper, helping the Mountain Lions football team to an 8–4 record and the first round of the state playoffs in 2000. An All-America offensive lineman, Incognito was named to PrepStar's 120-man Dream Team. He was a second-team honoree on the Long Beach Press-Telegram's Best in the West list. Incognito was a finalist for the Arizona Player-of-the-Year Award, was named the Brian Murray Award winner, and earned the Frank Kush Award, given to the best offensive lineman in Arizona. He also earned First-team All-State honors on offense from the Arizona Republic. Incognito also earned one letter in track & field (shot put) and also competed in weight lifting.
In 2001, Incognito redshirted at the University of Nebraska. In 2002, he became the first Husker freshman offensive lineman to start in the season opener and just the third rookie lineman to earn any start in his first year of competition. He played in all 14 games, starting 13 at left tackle and posted the second-highest season pancake total in Husker history with 171. He was named a first-team freshman All-American by FWAA, the Sporting News, and Rivals.com as well as first-team freshman All-Big 12 by the Sporting News.
At the same time, though, Incognito began displaying the behavioral problems that would follow him throughout his career. During a practice early in the 2002 season, he hit walk-on lineman Jack Limbaugh from behind, prompting Limbaugh to stomp off the field in disgust. 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. Per NCAA rules, he had to sit out the first half of the Huskers' next game, against Iowa State. In the second-to-last game of the season, against Colorado, he was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul penalty late in the game that largely contributed to the Huskers losing to the Buffaloes.
In the spring of 2003, Incognito was involved in a fight during practice and was suspended indefinitely by head coach Frank Solich. By this time, Solich and his staff were concerned enough about Incognito's behavior to send him to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas for anger management treatment. Incognito was reinstated by the start of the season and started 13 games at left tackle. He was rewarded with a first-team All-Big 12 selection by the Associated Press. However, during the Huskers' victory in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, he was accused of spitting on two Michigan State players.
In February 2004, Incognito was involved in a fight at a party and was charged with three counts of assault. In June, he was found guilty on one of the misdemeanor assault charges and paid a $500 fine. Incognito was shifted to center during the 2004 preseason camp. He entered the season with high expectations, listed on a number of preseason lists as a top center and named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy going to the best center in college football. On September 1, however, he was suspended indefinitely for repeated violations of team rules. The final straw for new coach Bill Callahan came when Incognito was once again involved in a fight in the locker room. Within a few weeks, Incognito withdrew from all classes at Nebraska and left Lincoln.
In late September, he transferred to the University of Oregon, only to be dismissed from the team a week later. Head coach Mike Bellotti said Incognito failed to meet the conditions he had agreed to meet before his arrival in Eugene. Bellotti didn't elaborate, but Incognito had been required to complete an anger-management course and adhere to a strict code of conduct.
At the 2005 NFL Combine, Incognito impressed scouts by being "the strongest and most explosive player in attendance". However, during a drill, Incognito stumbled and was carted off the field with a knee injury. The injury was later found to be a minor sprain that would have no long-term effect. Despite his impressive physical tools, ESPN Scouts Inc. noted "his inability to control his emotions both on and off the field is such a significant concern that he'll likely slip to the later rounds of the draft." Years later, then-Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who was the player personnel director of the New England Patriots in 2005, said that he did not even consider taking Incognito then, "and I don't want him now" in Kansas City. Pioli had long been known for drafting players with checkered pasts. At the same time, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said that Incognito was on the Colts' "DNDC" ("do not draft because of character") list in 2005.
|Ht||Wt||40‑yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20‑ss||3‑cone||Vert jump||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 3 1⁄4 in|
|4.84 s||1.72 s||2.85 s||29 reps||32|
|All values from NFL Combine|
St. Louis Rams (2005–09)
Incognito was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the third round of the 2005 draft (81st overall). As a rookie in 2005, he was on the reserved/unsigned list until Week 3, then placed on the non-football injury list for the remainder of the season.
Incognito started all 16 games at three different positions, due to injuries and illness to the Rams' offensive line. That year, he 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.
Incognito played and started at the right guard position for four games after being inactive for the first four weeks of the season. In early November, Incognito suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss the remainder of season. However, while rehabilitating, it was later revealed that he had been partying nightly.
Incognito started 15 games at right guard for the Rams, also seeing some playing time at center. On October 17, Incognito was fined three times for a total of $35,000 after the game versus the Washington Redskins. His violations during the game included repeatedly berating an official, a "major face mask" on a field goal attempt, and a chop block. The last penalty was not called during the game, but was detected on a video review. Incognito's behavior nearly led to a loss after he was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty before the eventual game-winning field goal.
Incognito was part of an offensive line that allowed 45 sacks. Although this was still among the league's 10 worst in terms of sacks allowed, it was the fewest allowed by the Rams since 2003. Following the 2008 season, Incognito became a restricted free agent, although he continued to work out with the Rams during the off-season.
On April 17, 2009, the Rams offered Incognito a one-year tender worth $1.01 million, which he signed on May 3. Incognito started all nine games in which he played for the Rams in 2009. On December 13, during the first half of a 47–7 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Incognito drew two 15-yard penalties for headbutting Titans players. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo benched him for the second half, and the two got into a heated confrontation on the sidelines. It was the second time Incognito had been benched for losing his composure; he had been pulled from the season opener against Seattle for two personal fouls. However, the Titans incident was the last straw; the Rams waived him two days after the game. In 2013, former Rams general manager Billy Devaney told ESPN that Spagnuolo had given Incognito numerous chances to clean up his act, and had put him on notice that the Rams would cut ties with him if he couldn't control his anger.
The two personal fouls led to a $50,000 fine from the NFL and a letter from the league office 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.
Buffalo Bills (2009)
Incognito was claimed by the Buffalo Bills off waivers on December 16, with the Miami Dolphins also submitting a claim. Incognito started the final three games of the season at the right guard position and helped block for Buffalo running back Fred Jackson's 212-yard rushing performance against Indianapolis on January 3. After the season, Incognito was a restricted free agent and the Bills declined to re-sign him.
Miami Dolphins (2010-2013)
On March 17, 2010, Incognito signed a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
In 2010, the Dolphins signed Incognito to a one-year deal in order to help strengthen their offensive line. Incognito started all 16 games of the season playing left guard and center. According to Pro Football Focus he was ranked in the Top 20 for Pass Blocking Efficiency.
In 2011, the Dolphins re-signed Incognito, this time to a three-year deal. Incognito started 15 games and allowed just 1.5 sacks on the year.
Incognito started all 16 games of the 2012 season at the left guard position. Incognito made his first of two National Football League Pro Bowl appearances after the 2012 season. Incognito also won the 2012 Good Guy Award alongside teammate Reggie Bush. The award is given out by the Pro Football Writers Association in each NFL city to the player(s) who best helps the media do its job.
On November 3, 2013, the Dolphins suspended Incognito for misconduct related to the treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team a week earlier. Incognito's conduct was said to be detrimental to the team. On February 4, 2014, Incognito's suspension was lifted.
Second stint with Bills (2015–present)
After not playing for the entire 2014 NFL season, Incognito signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills on February 7, 2015. Incognito started all 16 games and participated in 100% of offensive snaps. He was ranked the second overall guard and the number one left guard in the NFL by the metrics website Pro Football Focus. Following the 2015 season, he was elected to his second Pro Bowl, this time as a replacement. He was ranked 97th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2016 by his fellow players.
On March 8, 2016, Incognito agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Bills worth $15,750,000.
Bullying scandal and other controversies
In November 2013, ESPN reported on Incognito's alleged role in harassment of teammate Jonathan Martin. According to Incognito, he had reached out to Martin after he had left the team, and the two had an amicable text exchange, in which Incognito claims Martin said he did not blame him or his teammates personally. Incognito subsequently expressed outrage over the report, going on Twitter to demand that ESPN's Adam Schefter "Stop slandering my name."
Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN on November 3 that Martin fears "retribution, primarily from Incognito." The article goes on to state that "the matter is absolutely under review and preliminarily identifies Incognito as an alleged offender in multiple incidents of possible harassment and bullying over the past two seasons, with Martin not the only victim." Schefter and Mortensen also cited unnamed sources that one of the significant allegations is an incident during the summer of 2013 when Incognito got Martin to contribute $15,000 to help finance a trip to Las Vegas by a group of Dolphins, even though Martin preferred not to, "fearing the consequences if he did not hand over the money."
On November 3, Mike Garafolo reported on Fox Sports 1 that Incognito is alleged to have sent Martin threatening and racially charged messages. He also reported that the team and league—rather than the players' association—has been asked to investigate. That same day, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that Incognito "has had to be reprimanded in the past for his actions toward team employees," citing an unnamed source. La Canfora and Schefter subsequently reported statements from an unnamed source that the team and the league are now in possession of highly disturbing texts and voicemails in which Incognito used a racial slur against Martin, and disturbing text and voice exchanges including "a reference to tracking down members of Martin's family and harming them" and even threatening to kill Martin. According to La Canfora, Incognito's alleged harassment of Martin had gotten to the point that Martin actually feared for his safety, and felt that leaving the team was his only option.
Just hours after the Dolphins' game against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dolphins suspended Incognito indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team. The Dolphins also asked the NFL to join their own internal investigation of the matter. According to Schefter, the final straw for the Dolphins was a highly graphic voicemail Incognito left in April 2013, in which Incognito called Martin a "half-nig*er piece of s*it," threatened to slap Martin's mother across the face and even uttered a death threat against Martin. Until then, the Dolphins had publicly maintained the charges against Incognito were pure speculation. Schefter said that as late as the afternoon of November 3, the Dolphins didn't even know the voicemail existed. Within hours of hearing the tape, Schefter said, the Dolphins had suspended Incognito. The next day, a Dolphins source told The Miami Herald that Incognito would never play another down for the Dolphins again, and that the team intended to cut ties with him at the earliest opportunity.
On November 5, the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel quoted "multiple sources" as saying that Incognito may have taken orders from Dolphins coaches to "toughen up" Martin too far. The Sun-Sentinel reported that the controversial voice mail message that ultimately led to Incognito's suspension was made after Martin missed two days of the team's voluntary workout program. The coaches asked Incognito—by this time, reckoned as the leader of the offensive line—to make a call that would "get him into the fold." On November 7, reports emerged that Miami GM Jeff Ireland reacted to the allegations by suggesting that Martin punch Incognito – however, rather than take things that far, Martin chose to leave the team.
Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, Incognito was initially slated to sit out for a maximum of four weeks. At the end of that time, the Dolphins would have had to either release him or find some way to keep him off the field, given earlier statements that he would never appear in a Dolphins uniform again. However, the league and the Dolphins agreed to extend the suspension for another two weeks with pay. On December 16, the league and the Dolphins announced that Incognito would remain suspended for the remainder of the season.
On February 3, 2014, the text messages exchanged between Martin and Incognito were leaked. It is thought that "the leak came from Incognito or someone close to him, because the text messages tend to support the notion that Incognito and Martin were friends. Moreover, nothing in the Incognito text messages suggests harassment or bullying of Martin." On February 4, 2014, Incognito's 3-month long suspension ended.
On February 14, 2014, lawyer Ted Wells released a () following an investigation into the matter ordered by the NFL. The investigation concluded that Incognito, and to a lesser extent fellow offensive linemen John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, bullied Martin, yet another (unnamed) Dolphins offensive lineman, and also a Dolphins staff member, an unnamed assistant trainer.
The report also concluded that Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey made severe racial slurs towards the assistant trainer, and Incognito and Jerry even taunted him by saying that they had sex with his girlfriend. On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands featuring a rising sun emblem (which the assistant trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the assistant trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack. The assistant trainer confided in Martin that he was upset about the Pearl Harbor comments, finding them derogatory toward his heritage, as the assistant trainer is from Japan.
Further, the report concluded regarding Martin's "mental health problems, alcohol and drug use and... concerns about poor performance on the field" that "his text messages and other evidence demonstrate that these are real factors, not issues Incognito has manufactured out of whole cloth." The report noted a published newspaper report regarding Martin's difficulties with the position change the Dolphins made with him days before he left the team and alleged harassment. The Miami Herald noted that the Dolphins were concerned about Martin's reaction to the move, and noted that "It was clear Martin isn't thrilled about the move. "You can approach this two different ways," Martin said. "You can go in the tank and be one of those guys who bitches and moans and is a cancer in the locker room, or you can be a guy who goes out there and can be a professional and plays as hard as I can." Martin says he'll be the latter."
Allegations of dirty play
Incognito has garnered attention over the years for perceived dirty play amongst NFL players, coaches, and fans. He has been alleged to have gouged players' eyes, punched players, and made illegal tackles on a regular basis. In 2009, NFL players voted Incognito as the dirtiest player in the league, according to a Sporting News poll.
After the bullying scandal and his release from the Dolphins organization, Incognito sought help through therapy when he voluntarily checked himself into an Arizona treatment facility. After months of treatment, Incognito described his experience and growth as "very difficult" because "There's no doubt things were said and things were texted and things were done where I clearly crossed the line...That's part of the learning process I went through, and just growing up and maturing and being aware of your surroundings and who your audience is."
After sitting out the 2014 season, Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills picked up and signed Incognito for the 2015 season with the intent to "build a bully." According to teammate Eric Wood, Incognito was seen as an "ultimate professional" and "quickly became a locker room favorite" . Incognito re-elevated his game and helped the Buffalo Bills lead the 2015 NFL season in rushing yards and yards-per-carry.
Prior to the 2016 season, Incognito sat down with Colin Cowherd for an interview on the radio show The Herd where he talked about his relationship with Jonathan Martin since the bullying scandal stating "our relationship ended that day, that week, it was completely over, it was done. You learn from it you move on."
Incognito has a reputation as a reliable lineman who works hard to stay healthy. His methods to stay off the injured list include core exercises like Pilates, weekly trips to the chiropractor, massage therapy, and other non-traditional forms of conditioning. "The main thing is longevity, but the real goal of these methods of training is just staying on top of the small stuff," he said. "The body is all interconnected. The main goal is to stay on the field and remain ready to deal with the grind of the NFL. It's a violent sport, it's a collision sport and I take pride in being a professional and being prepared mentally and physically to play."
Incognito is the oldest son of Richard Incognito Sr. and Donna Incognito, who also have a younger son, Derek. His father is of Italian and German descent. Incognito supports Operation Homefront, an organization that provides assistance to families of service members and wounded soldiers; during the 2012 season, he hosted a private screening and book reading of the animated film Rise of the Guardians for Operation Homefront, where he led a book reading to over 100 children before the screening of the film. Politically, he is a conservative and a Republican supporter and publicly supported Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election.