Daily Dispatches
Richie Incognito
Associated Press/Photo by Wilfredo Lee
Richie Incognito

NFL player Incognito seeks help after public meltdown

Sports

Embattled former Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito is receiving mental treatment in Arizona in the wake of the team’s bullying scandal, NFL Media reporter Jeff Darlington said Friday. The report came a day after Incognito admitted to taking a baseball bat to his $300,000 Ferrari, calling it “venting,” “self-expression,” and “art.”

“Incognito has spent the last several weeks in a variety of emotional states, which has led those closest to him to steer him toward help,” Darlington said on Twitter. Darlington has a relationship with the 6-foot-3-inch, 319-pound lineman from writing features on him and his bumpy journey in the National Football League. The 30-year-old Incognito has engaged in increasingly destructive behaviour while under “severe mental stress” since an NFL report declared that he was a ringleader of sorts in the harassment—often sexual or racial in nature—of Miami Dolphins’ colleagues.

Incognito’s downfall began at the end of October, when teammate Jonathan Martin stormed out of team facilities with mental issues of his own and didn’t return. Martin’s harassment allegations set off a firestorm of negative publicity about Incognito, whom the media dubbed a bully.

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Before landing in Miami in 2010, Incognito bounced around colleges and NFL teams for years because of a past that includes drugs, alcohol, sexual exploits, and frequent fights and bouts with anger. With the Dolphins, his on-the-field outbursts began to subside and reports of violent incidents off-the-field declined. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season and called the anti-anxiety drug Paxil “a life-changer.”

But when Jonathan Martin abruptly left the Dolphins last October and alleged persistent harassment by teammates, Incognito came crashing down. Miami suspended Incognito for the final eight games of the season, and NFL and media investigators revealed flaws in his character that had continued behind closed doors. NFL investigators concluded Incognito and two other offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment of Martin, another offensive lineman, and an assistant trainer. After a report on the investigation was released last month, the Dolphins fired offensive-line coach Jim Turner and longtime trainer Kevin O'Neill.

The report didn’t solve all the problems, though. Investigators struggled to distinguish issues of workplace ethics from the personal and mental health problems of both Incognito and Martin. “It was not difficult to conclude that the Assistant Trainer and Player A were harassed, but the questions raised in Martin’s case were more complex, nuanced and difficult,” the report says.

Since that report, the old Incognito seems to have returned. His partying and mood swings have been, according to Darlington, “foreign to even those who had witnessed him during his tenure with the Miami Dolphins.” Before he finally accepted help in Arizona, Darlington said friends and the NFL Players Association engaged in “failed intervention attempts” in Los Angeles. Both Incognito and Martin have said they want to play in 2014, but neither is expected to be back with the Dolphins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andrew Branch
Andrew Branch

Andrew is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, N.C. He was homeschooled for 12 years and recently graduated from N.C. State University. He writes about sports and poverty for WORLD. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewABranch.

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