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  1. #1
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    Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Rams' Richie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/18/2009

    As popular as Richie Incognito is in the Rams' locker room, where he's venerated as a staunch defender of his teammates, he's equally ostracized around the NFL, where he's regarded by some of his adversaries as an unscrupulous hothead.

    After Incognito was whistled for four penalties, including two personal fouls, in a 2007 game against Arizona, Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said the NFL "is going to have to do something about (Incognito), because one day he's going to really injure somebody's career. The guy was trying to hurt some of our guys."

    Last year, Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill noted that there are "just a few in the league who take cheap shots, go low at you when they're not supposed to go low, like when you're not looking. … He's one of them."

    As a result:

    — Opponents do what they can to get under Incognito's skin, trying to elicit a reaction.

    "One of the fundamentals of the game is trying to exploit someone else's weaknesses," said CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the old St. Louis Cardinals. "You realize where another guy is flawed and how to take advantage of that."

    — Officials constantly keep a close eye on Incognito for any indiscretion.

    "I know when I'm going out there Sundays I'm being watched," said the 6-foot-3, 324-pound Incognito, the Rams' right guard. "I'm a marked man."

    Incognito, 26, said in the spring that he dedicated the offseason to trying to scrape away that reputation. "Just growing, being a more mature football player and eliminating the penalties," he said. "That's really the emphasis for me."

    Yet Incognito already has re-ignited the furor by drawing two personal-foul calls in the Rams' 28-0 season-opening loss at Seattle.

    Angry fans on sports-talk shows and Internet forums have called for his release, arguing that enough is enough. But first-year head coach Steve Spagnuolo is standing up for his man.

    "I trust Richie — I like his passion," Spagnuolo said. "When the passion leads to penalties, that's not a good thing. But I'd rather have that problem than trying to motivate the guys to love the game of football."


    'I PLAY WITH PASSION'

    No one questions Incognito's love for football. "I care a lot about the game," he said. "I play with passion. I play with fire. And I play to win."

    He's been doing so since he was a youngster in Glendale, Ariz. At Mountain Ridge High he developed into one of the nation's most sought-after linemen.

    He chose Nebraska and quickly earned a first-team job at left tackle. Incognito became the first Cornhuskers offensive lineman ever to start the season-opener his freshman year.

    But trouble was brewing: Incognito was ejected from a game that year for fighting. The following spring, Huskers coach Frank Solich suspended him. The reason was unspecified, but it reportedly resulted from several indiscretions.

    After earning reinstatement, Incognito had a big 2003 season, earning All-Big 12 Conference honors. But by February 2004, he was in hot water again, charged with three counts of assault stemming from a fight at a party. He was found guilty of one misdemeanor charge and paid a $500 fine.

    When he was suspended indefinitely "for repeated violations of team policy" by new Nebraska coach Bill Callahan just before the start of the '04 season, Incognito left, planning to transfer to Oregon.

    But Ducks coach Mike Bellotti rebuffed him, so Incognito sat out what would've been his junior season and awaited the '05 NFL Draft.


    'I LOSE MY COOL'

    The Rams selected Incognito in the third round, coach Mike Martz saying that he liked the "toughness he brings to the offensive line."

    The problems occur when Incognito's toughness crosses the line.

    "You have to play with emotion, but there are times when you've got to take a shot from somebody and walk away from it," Rams offensive lineman Mark Setterstrom said. "That's not easy to do. You just have to know how to control that."

    Added Dierdorf: "It's just discipline; that's all it is."

    Incognito has committed 27 penalties in 36 NFL games, moving the Rams back 254 yards. Seven were personal fouls, most of them post-whistle violations, and several have come at inopportune times, costing the Rams dearly.

    Anger isn't the culprit, Incognito insists. Sometimes, as he explained, the "juices get flowing" and "I lose my cool."

    It's not an unusual reaction, said Dr. Shana Alexander, a sports psychology professional in Lake Forest, Calif., who counsels a number of professional athletes.

    Alexander explained that she tries to get players with such issues to "recognize that only they have control over their emotions. … How you think is going to determine how you behave. First, they have to recognize negative thoughts, and then I help them challenge them. Once you identify them and challenge them regularly, the behavior starts to change."

    Incognito assured that he realizes his behavior needs to change.

    "I'm disappointed in myself and disappointed that I let my teammates down" in Seattle, he said. "It's not a feeling that I like to have."


    'CARRYING THE BURDEN'

    Incognito's ability generally isn't questioned. "I don't think he's destined for Canton," site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Dierdorf said. "But he's plenty good enough to play in this league. All those skills are there. I can see why Spagnuolo is trying to save him."

    Jim Hanifan, who coached scores of offensive linemen during more than three decades in the NFL, called Incognito "a valuable and integral part of this football team — if he can be channeled properly.

    "You just hope that the young man will mature and realize that you just cannot get into those situations … where you hurt your football team. That's the bottom line."

    Said left guard Jacob Bell: "He knows that was his one slip-up for the year. He can't be doing it anymore. He knows how it affected us. It's hard to win when you're doing stuff like that."

    And nobody, Incognito stressed, wants to win more than he does.

    "The losing around here … there's been a lot of negativity surrounding what we do," he said. "We put a lot of time and effort in, and we care about what we do. So to go out there and have it go the way it's gone, it's just not fun."

    Winning is fun, and Incognito said he wants to have some, starting Sunday at Washington. He's also eager to re-start the effort to muzzle his conduct after "carrying the burden" of his actions at Seattle throughout the week.

    "You look at the positives of the situation, and there really are none," he said. "It has to stop. That's it."


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"

    The Richie Incognito file
    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/18/2009

    Nov. 12, 2006 (at Seattle)
    Seattle’s Kelly Jennings rips off Steven Jackson’s helmet after a 14-yard TD run put the Rams up 22-21 with 2˝ minutes remaining. Incognito retaliates and is called for a personal foul. The penalty forces the Rams to kick from the 15-yard line, the Seahawks take possession at mid-field and win on a 38-yard field goal with nine seconds to go. The NFL fines Incognito $5,000.

    Oct. 7, 2007 (vs. Arizona)
    In a 34-31 loss to the Cardinals, Incognito is flagged for two personal fouls for unnecessary roughness and two holding calls. The NFL fines Incognito $7,500.

    Oct. 12, 2008 (at Washington)
    A personal foul for “repeated verbal abuse of a game official” in the final seconds means that Josh Brown’s field-goal try as time expires must come from 49 yards out instead of 34. Brown connects, and the Rams win 19-17. The NFL fines Incognito $35,000 — $25,000 for the personal foul, $5,000 for a major facemask penalty and $5,000 for an illegal chop block. The total exceeds Incognito’s game check of $27,000.

    Nov. 20, 2008
    Three days before the Bears, and a large contingent of Chicago fans, come to St. Louis, Incognito criticizes the St. Louis fans. “We know how our fans feel about us; that's fine. It's nice to have the other fans here. At least they cheer. Our fans get in their seats, they don't know how to cheer, when to cheer.”

    Nov. 23, 2008 (vs. Bears)
    Despite apologizing, he is booed loudly during a 27-3 loss. He stops before leaving the field and cups his hands to his ears, encouraging more abuse. Interim coach Jim Haslett wants to punish Incognito but is advised that the players association would be able to get a fine overturned. Again, Incognito apologizes.

    Sept 13, 2009 (at Seattle)
    On the first play from scrimmage, Incognito is whistled for a false start. On the second series, he draws a personal foul with the Rams near midfield. Two plays later, the Rams are forced to punt. In the third period, with the Rams again near midfield, Incognito is hit with another personal foul. He’s replaced for the final two plays of that series and all of the next by Adam Goldberg, but returns and is penalty-free the rest of the way in a 28-0 loss. If the NFL fines Incognito, it would be announced today.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    If you know opponents are trying to prod you, and you know officials are watching you closely, and you STILL make these kinds of stupid mistakes, then I don't know what to say. I've seen five-year-old children in Toys 'R Us show more discipline.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    If you know opponents are trying to prod you, and you know officials are watching you closely, and you STILL make these kinds of stupid mistakes, then I don't know what to say. I've seen five-year-old children in Toys 'R Us show more discipline.
    Exactly, discipline. At this point, does anyone really believe he'll get it? He says the same things year after year after year, yet nothing changes.

    I really like the guy, but now I just see him as a liability that opponents know they can exploit basically anytime they want.

    It looks like he'll be given yet another chance and I hope he takes advantage of it. I still get furious whenever I think about last years Redskins game.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    all i know is that probrably for Spags, he sees a talented football player, and i do too, we are going to need him against a Nasty guy like Albert Haynsworth.

    But i just don't like the fact that if Steven Jackson makes a first down that it gets penalized immediately cause of a personal foul. We can't have it, we need everything we can get our hands on.

    We as the Rams fans would like to see a win, and with an unforgiving Schedule, Cogs has got to get his stuff together.

    In my book i never liked him, but he has only 1 more chance in my book.
    Last edited by Nick; -09-18-2009 at 08:25 PM. Reason: No profanity, including using characters instead of letters.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Incognito IS a marked man- from opponents to officials, everyone is watching him. For him to continue this trend of personal fouls and penalties that repeatedly cost this football team is unacceptable. I trust Steve Spagnuolo, but it will send a terrible message to both players and fans if Incognito is kept around and there isn't immediate change in his behavior.

    I don't want to hear Incognito talk anymore about how "he knows he is hurting the team". Talk is cheap. Clean up your act NOW. It's like the rest of you aptly pointed out: it's simply a matter of being disciplined.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    "I'm a marked man" thats because you chose to be jacka**,your the one doing stupid things to get the penalties called against you,I to think he has alot of talent but I believe he is out of chances.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    He almost screwed it up for us last year. I swear if he does it this year against the Skins I'll freak out. We can't be having him out there. He's not even that good...
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    He almost screwed it up for us last year.
    Yup...he almost screwed up our whole season. Just think, instead of ending up 2-14, we could have been 1-15...what a catastrophe that would have been.

    If we had a good team that won on a regular basis, no one would about an offensive lineman playing with a bad attitude. Penalties or no penalties.

    When he costs us a Superbowl or playoff victory, then I'll listen to all this whining. In the meantime, the way this team has been getting slapped by everyone in the NFL over the last few years, I'll take 5 Incognito's on my offensive line anyday.
    Last edited by RamDez; -09-19-2009 at 10:31 AM. Reason: Inappropriate Language
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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Quote Originally Posted by Yodude View Post
    I'll take 5 Incognito's on my offensive line anyday.
    And face 2nd and 25 on every drive? We'd never get a first down of our own if we had five Incognitos. One is bad enough.

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    Angry Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    On the next PF, the rams should sit him down for a game or start finig him. Nothing hurts a man more than to start hitting him in the wallet

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    If occasiionally Tiger woods were to walk up and pick up a golf ball and throw it, would you still call it talent?

    Incognito is a cheap shot artist. He has the physical attributes to play the position, but not the talent. Dan Dierdorf has said that the one thing an offiensive lineman needs is a good temperment. Incognito obviously never learned that true talent is based off your ability to play inside the rules. Anyone can cheat and win, that is why it is cheating.

    Time to let him go. We don't have to be the bottom feeders of the NFL.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Sorry, but the man-child just doesn't get. Never has & I believe never will. In my opinion he needs to sit on the bench & let Greco have a shot at it. I'm sure at least the penalties will be cut out. I just don't understand this love affair the coaches have with him. He continually makes the same bonehead moves year after year.
    Spags, Please its time to sit this child & let a disciplined player start.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Quote Originally Posted by Yodude View Post
    Yup...he almost screwed up our whole season. Just think, instead of ending up 2-14, we could have been 1-15...what a catastrophe that would have been.

    If we had a good team that won on a regular basis, no one would about an offensive lineman playing with a bad attitude. Penalties or no penalties.

    When he costs us a Superbowl or playoff victory, then I'll listen to all this whining. In the meantime, the way this team has been getting slapped by everyone in the NFL over the last few years, I'll take 5 Incognito's on my offensive line anyday.
    I could see sticking up for Cogs if he was a difference maker, but he's not. Any benefits he brings are far outweighed by the negatives he causes. He consistently underachieves, is not a great blocker, and routinely puts the offense in tough situations. There are guys that bust their tails on every play, only to be underminded by his wreckless behavior. His antics take away from the team concept.

    As far as taking 5 Incognito's on your offensive line? Against Seattle, he had 3penalties for 35 yards. I don't even want to attempt the math to see what that would extrapolate to 5 times over.

    Our "whining" is more than justified.

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    Re: Rams' Ritchie Incognito: "I'm a marked man"/The Incognito File

    Quote Originally Posted by Yodude View Post
    Yup...he almost screwed up our whole season. Just think, instead of ending up 2-14, we could have been 1-15...what a catastrophe that would have been.

    If we had a good team that won on a regular basis, no one would about an offensive lineman playing with a bad attitude. Penalties or no penalties.

    When he costs us a Superbowl or playoff victory, then I'll listen to all this whining. In the meantime, the way this team has been getting slapped by everyone in the NFL over the last few years, I'll take 5 Incognito's on my offensive line anyday.

    Ridiculous logic, in my opinion. So on top of the fact that we have some very real issues on our football team, we should just silently tolerate a guy who contributes to stalled drives and poor field position and can't exercise self-control on the field? We shouldn't be upset unless he costs us a game that "actually means something like the playoffs or the Super Bowl"? Totally warped thinking.

    The fact is, we DON"T have a good football team right now- which makes it even more important that a culture of discipline and poise is displayed by EVERYONE on a weekly basis. Having some hot head who makes the same mistakes over and over again then has apologists chalk it up to "playing with passion" will not help the Rams become better.

    Spagnuolo's public support for Incognito is no surprise- it's exactly what a coach, especially a new coach trying to earn trust with his players will do. I can tell you as a current coach myself, however, that privately it is a different matter. Incognito will only be given a mulligan for so long, then he'll be gone.

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