Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Bills announce “agreement in principle” with Incognito

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 23: Richie Incognito #68 of the Miami Dolphins is introduced with the starting players prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 23, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Bills 24-10. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Last month, new Bills coach Rex Ryan vowed to build a bully. And now the team has acquired a bully.

Perhaps a fully-reformed bully, but a bully nonetheless. The Bills have announced that that the team has reached an agreement in principle with Richie Incognito.

The veteran guard missed all of the 2014 season after being suspended for the final eight games of 2013 following the abrupt departure of tackle Jonathan Martin from the Dolphins. The report generated last February by investigator Ted Wells found that Incognito engaged in various unsavory activities, from making “graphic, sexually explicit comments about Martin’s sister,” leaving a voice message with Martin in which Incognito used a racial slur and said, “I’ll kill you,” sending text messages with insults based on Martin’s race, harassing another player based on the perception that he is gay, and ridiculing an Asian-American assistant trainer with racist comments.

In a separate incident, Incognito assaulted a female volunteer at a team golf outing, “touching her privates with a golf club and emptying a bottle of water in her face.” She received a $30,000 settlement, and Incongito was summoned to the league office and fined $50,000 by the team.

It’s no surprise, then, that former Eagles and Browns executive Joe Banner has criticized Buffalo’s decision to sign Incognito.

“Considering the list of things Incognito has done, this is a bad signing and a terrible message as a first move by a new group,” Banner said Saturday on Twitter.

It’s definitely a surprise that a team co-owned by Kim Pegula would sign a player who assaulted a woman. And it’ll be interesting to see if the agreement in principle ever becomes a signed contract. Nineteen years ago, the late Myra Kraft insisted that the Patriots sever ties with Christian Peter, who had just been selected with a fifth-round draft pick. While Peter’s alleged misdeeds included more and arguably worse conduct than Incognito’s, the notion that an NFL team co-owned by a female would provide employment to a man whose long list of behavior includes sexual misconduct sends a confusing message at a time when the NFL seems to be intent on restricting the privilege of playing pro football to those who have not committed improper acts against others -- particularly against women.

Kim Pegula also is Asian-American, like the assistant trainer Incognito relentlessly harassed in Miami. I wonder if she has read pages 22 and 23 of the Ted Wells report.