Can Mike Pouncey pass a Rorschach test? What will John Jerry tell a psychiatrist about his childhood? What kind of psychotropic drugs could transform Richie Incognito into a mild-mannered human being? The NFL is about to find out.
Asked at the annual league meeting when the NFL will allow Richie Incognito back on the field, Roger Goodell punted. It isn’t a commissioner decision, he said. It’s a medical one.
Isn’t having a few screws loose a prerequisite to playing in the NFL’s trenches?
Remarkably, the commissioner claimed that the players’ union agrees that the three players most embroiled in the scandal as alleged perpetrators require medical evaluation and treatment as a precondition to playing again. But the agreement between the league and its players permits but one suspension per offense, and Incognito has already served the punishment meted out by the Dolphins.
Is Goodell’s answer an indication that he’s prepared to break the rules to further punish a player who broke the rules?
“Our focus right now, at least in the case of the three players, is that they would be evaluated,” Goodell said Monday. “We’ve talked with the union several times about that. And we agreed that was the right first step. Once they’ve been evaluated, the medical professionals, which are joint medical professionals, will make determinations of whether any treatment is necessary. And it will be a requirement that they fulfill that.”
The Wells Report, issued last month on the Incognito-Martin bullying affair, documented numerous instances of boorish and bullying behavior by Dolphins offensive linemen Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, and John Jerry. “Player A was a Dolphins offensive lineman,” Ted Wells’s report notes of a player later identified as current Carolina offensive lineman Andrew McDonald. “Like Martin, he is quiet and unassuming. During his time with the team, [Richie] Incognito, [John] Jerry and [Mike] Pouncey frequently taunted Player A with homophobic insults. He often was called a ‘fag’ or a ‘faggot’ in a demeaning tone. Incognito reportedly accused him of ‘sucking d—‘ and ‘pissing while sitting down’ and asked him ‘where’s your boyfriend?’ Incognito acknowledged that Player A, although not actually believed to be gay, was spoken to in this manner repeatedly and persistently–he got it ‘every day from everybody, high frequency.'”
Since season’s end, the Miami Dolphins have traded tackle Jonathan Martin to the San Francisco 49ers, lost guard John Jerry to the Giants, and released former Pro Bowl guard Richie Incognito. Pouncey, an elite NFL center who showed his support for former University of Florida teammate Aaron Hernandez on a hat last summer, remains with the Dolphins.
Since emerging from a treatment facility after taking a baseball bat to his Ferrari, Richie Incognito has been active on Twitter expressing a desire to play this season. He wrote favorably about playing for the Raiders or a return to Miami. “My turn to pick a new team,” Incognito tweeted. He also offered apologies to the one he hurt most: “Ferrari…I’m sorry.”
“I think the first phase for us is to get the evaluations and determine what the treatment is,” Goodell said yesterday. “Depending on what the doctors prescribe there, it could prevent them from being part of football for some period of time. But that’s a medical decision.”
No, it’s ultimately a legal decision.