After taking a year off and serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Richie Incognito made his return to the league last week as a starting guard for the Oakland Raiders.
The troubled offensive lineman has produced a litany of headlines for off-field incidents, including a tirade at an Arizona funeral home after his father’s death where he threatened to shoot people and throwing a dumbbell at a Florida gym patron he thought was an NSA agent.
Incognito denies bullying Martin
Incognito spoke with HBO’s “Real Sports” for an upcoming episode and addressed the controversies that have defined his football career.
He denies that he bullied Martin and told HBO’s Bernard Goldberg that Martin’s own mental health struggles led to his quitting football.
Awful Announcing saw an advanced screening of the interview and provided a transcript:
INCOGNITO: It was obviously something I regret. It’s the one line I can’t cross. Sometimes, you say the worst things to the people closest to you, but I definitely don’t feel that that makes me a racist person.
GOLDBERG: He was a soft-spoken guy. You drove him out of the league.
INCOGNITO: I did not drive him out of the league. I believe his mental health issues and his demons in his past drove him out of the league.
GOLDBERG: But there was a 144-page report that accused you of relentlessly bullying him.
INCOGNITO: I think the report was unfair to my side of things. I think the gentleman who did the independent investigation came in with the preconceived notion that I was guilty of doing this. I fit the bill. Hey, racist, homophobic, whatnot. What I’m saying was, we were close, personal friends. It wasn’t factored into, ‘Hey, this is guy talk, these are two alpha males talkin’ to each other.’ Was some bad s--- said? Absolutely. But was this a case of bullying? Absolutely not.
Incognito: Alcohol, marijuana were problematic
Incognito also discussed the funeral home incident. He told Goldberg that he wasn’t thinking straight during the incident because of a lack of sleep and the influence of alcohol and marijuana.
“I thought I was acting normal,” Incognito said. “You couple in the days not sleeping, then the heavy marijuana use, plus the drinking. All that is a recipe for disaster for a person like myself.”
Incognito’s arrival this offseason with the Raiders was largely overshadowed by the barrage of controversy provided by Antonio Brown.
With Brown out of the picture now, any further missteps from Incognito won’t go unnoticed.
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