Richie Incognito opens up about turbulent past in HBO interview

Jim Reineking

USA TODAY

Published 11:27 PM EDT Sep 24, 2019

Richie Incognito opened up about his turbulent past in an interview with Bernard Goldberg that aired Tuesday night on HBO’s “Real Sports.”

The 36-year-old Incognito discussed the bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins in 2013, his May 2018 arrest at a South Florida gym and his August 2018 arrest at a funeral home in Arizona. To start this season, the offensive guard served a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and played in his first game on Sunday for the Oakland Raiders in the team’s 34-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

In the HBO interview, Incognito denied bullying then-Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin — “was this a case of bullying? Absolutely not” — and denied allegations that he threatened to shoot staff members at the Messingers Funeral Home in Scottsdale, Arizona — “I never thought (about using the guns) one bit.”

In August 2018, as arrangements were being made for his father’s funeral, Incognito became “upset with staff and began to damage property inside the business and shout at employees,” according to Scottsdale police. Incognito told police that he wanted his father’s head cut off for research purposes. Witnesses told police that Incognito was supposed to sign cremation papers, but initially was unwilling to cooperate. Instead, Incognito walked through the funeral home punching caskets and throwing things.

“It was an emotional day for myself. And I showed up at the funeral home, and I wasn’t in my best health,” Incognito said in the HBO interview. “I thought I was acting normal. 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 went out to his truck, where he had two handguns, three rifles, four magazines and a silencer. At this point, an employee placed a 911 call with police.

“I was in the process of moving. And those weapons didn’t make it on the shipment that went up to Las Vegas,” Incognito said in the HBO interview.

“I never thought (about using the guns) one bit. I made a finger gesture like this (shows his index and middle fingers pointed out and his thumb up) … ‘I’m going to go to the vehicle, I’ll be right back.’ My intention was to go to the vehicle and grab my father’s medical records to come in and show them. I went out to the vehicle, I came back in, and that’s when the lady, unfortunately, called 9-1-1 and said that I threatened to kill everybody in there and shoot everybody. Those words never came out of my mouth.

“I’m sorry for striking that fear into them. I was definitely putting off a bad vibe. Next thing you know, the Scottsdale police are coming into the door with their guns drawn and I got on the ground and I was arrested.”

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The funeral home incident came just three months after an arrest for a disturbance at LifeTime Fitness in Boca Raton, Florida.  After which, police footage showed Incognito questioning if he ever wanted to play professional football again.

 “They said ‘retire.’ I said ‘(expletive) you, I’ll never retire.’ … I’m fine with it. My heart fell out of the game last year. I don’t want to go anymore. I don’t want to have to go to Buffalo. I don’t want to have to go to St. Louis. I don’t want to have to come here (Miami). I played for a long time. I have all my money. I have all my (expletive) money. I don’t want to have to (expletive) play anymore,” Incognito says in the police footage aired by HBO. “They want to bring me to Seattle. They want to bring me to D.C. They want to bring me to Minnesota. (Expletive) talked to all these people. I don’t want to have to (expletive) go. All right, I’ll go.”

Police placed Incognito in what amounts to a psychiatric hold.

“Spun out paranoia to the Nth degree,” Incognito said in the HBO interview. “I had not been taking care of myself for so long. You’re talking lack of sleep, not eating, marijuana, drinking heavily. Days and days and weeks and weeks on end. That is the product you get, you get a highly paranoid, very large individual talking a bunch of nonsense.”

Incognito did not play in the NFL in 2018. He also did not play during the 2014 season after being suspended indefinitely by the Dolphins for conduct detrimental to the team following a bullying scandal involving Martin, whom Incognito directed racial slurs at. 

“It was obviously something I regret,” Incognito said in the HBO interview. “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 like that makes me a racist person.”

Incognito does not believe he drove Martin — who played just one more NFL season after the bullying scandal — out of the league.

“I think the (NFL’s) report was unfair to my side of things,” Incognito said in the HBO interview. “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 talking to each other.’ Some bad (expletive) is said, absolutely. But was this a case of bullying? Absolutely not.”

In May, the Raiders signed Incognito — who’s a four-time Pro Bowl selection — to a one-year contract. The Raiders are the fourth team Incognito has been with since joining the NFL in 2006 as a third-round draft choice by the St. Louis Rams.


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