Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula said Monday he and several other top members of the organization met with controversial guard Richie Incognito before agreeing to sign the player at the center of the Miami Dolphins' 2013 bullying scandal.
"I personally met with Richie, along with Doug Whaley, Rex Ryan and Kim [Pegula] regarding an opportunity to earn a spot on the Buffalo Bills roster," Pegula said in a statement Monday announcing the signing of Incognito. "Obviously, we all discussed Richie's past experience in the NCAA and NFL."
That was probably a pretty long conversation.
As an All-Big 12 player at Nebraska, Incognito was accused of spitting on an opposing player, ejected from a game for punching an opposing player, suspended for fighting in practice, found guilty of a misdemeanor assault charge and dismissed from the team after fighting in the locker room.
He enrolled at Oregon but was kicked off the team before even taking part in a practice. "There were conditions we had set down and set forth for him to be admitted to our program, and they were not met," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti told the Oregonian at the time.
In nine NFL seasons, Incognito has played for the St. Louis Rams, the Bills and the Dolphins. He was voted the league's dirtiest player in a 2009 poll of NFL players by the Sporting News. There had already been talk about clashes with various teammates over the years even before the bullying scandal that caused the league to suspend the former Pro Bowler indefinitely in 2013.
Even after the punishment was lifted before the 2014 season, Incognito was unable to land a job. But Pegula said he and his associates feel Incognito is ready for another chance.
"We are convinced that Richie is prepared to move forward and has and will continue to take the necessary steps to improve himself as a person and a teammate," Pegula said. "Following discussion with the rest of the coaching staff, we as an organization will provide him with the opportunity to do so."