After committing $100 million over the next seven years to end player protests during the national anthem, the National Football League finds itself in the crosshairs of another embarrassing racial incident from a repeat offender. Jacksonville Jaguars and former Maryland defensive end Yannick Ngakoue tweeted following their AFC wildcard win that Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Richie Incognito used racial slurs about his African heritage in a confrontation during the game in Jacksonville Jan 7.
Incognito, who is White, was involved in a similar controversy with former teammate Johnathan Martin, who is mixed race, while playing for the Miami Dolphins in 2013. During that incident Incognito was accused of bullying Martin – by also using racial slurs – which led to his emotional breakdown and an NFL investigation that ripped the Dolphins apart. Many Black Dolphins players praised Incognito as a great teammate and branded Martin as soft. However, after an investigation by former federal prosecutor Ted Wells, Incognito was suspended for the balance of that season but never lost a paycheck. He didn’t play a single down in 2014 then resurfaced in Buffalo for the 2015 season where he has played since.
It should be noted that Incognito had limited on field interactions versus the Jaguars because he missed the first quarter. They did, however, face each other at least twice in the fourth quarter where the alleged incidents took place. Once again Incognito has advocates from other Black teammates such as Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins who tweeted “if he was saying some racist stuff I would have been the first to let him know that was out of line”.
Bills General Manager Brandon Beane downplayed the incident at his end of season press conference on Jan. 9. “I think there’s a misunderstanding of what was said,” Beane said. “From what I understand, it was a little bit of on-the-field stuff, back and forth.”
Alas, the hypocrisy of the NFL is on full display once again. The same league which has blackballed and locked out Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to police brutality in urban areas, gives a White player a chance to resume the same racial antics that embarrassed a league where about 70 percent of its players are Black. The same league where Houston Texans owner Bob McNair referred to players as “inmates” and teams as “jails” now finds itself complicit in creating an acceptable climate of verbal race baiting although it should have been penalized if Incognito had been caught.
The supporters of Incognito, who routinely has been voted one of the dirtiest players in the NFL, are socially concussed. They are the personification of people whose backbone has decayed like the brains which are being used as research subjects after committing suicide that gives the league the information they use to protect players from head trauma.
Trauma in this case is a cautionary tale of having no character. There are no social concussion protocols for NFL racism. Players are caught in jaundiced locker room loyalty where they remain supportive of teammates despite social deviance that is detrimental to the team and the league itself. That’s the same misguided loyalty that recently cost retired players such as Donovan McNabb, Marshall Faulk, and Eric Davis their TV jobs at NFL Network and ESPN after bouts of sexual harassment in the workplace. If Black players won’t standup to a racist in shoulder pads like Incognito because they are teammates you wonder if they are genuine when kneeling for the National Anthem.
The NFL is launching an investigation into these latest allegations against Incognito. However, it’s what lies beneath the league’s artificial surface that’s troubling. If the NFL has a job for Incognito and not Kaepernick what does it say for the league’s character?