In My Opinion

Armando Salguero: Richie Incognito’s meltdown gets more extreme, worrisome

 
 
FILE - In this July 24, 2013 file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) stretches during an NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. Police checking on reported damage to a car belonging to Incognito, the player at the center of the Dolphins' bullying scandal, say Incognito told an officer he did the damage himself. Sgt. Mark Clark says the Dolphins guard took responsibility when police contacted him Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.
FILE - In this July 24, 2013 file photo, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito (68) stretches during an NFL football practice in Davie, Fla. Police checking on reported damage to a car belonging to Incognito, the player at the center of the Dolphins' bullying scandal, say Incognito told an officer he did the damage himself. Sgt. Mark Clark says the Dolphins guard took responsibility when police contacted him Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014.
Lynne Sladky / AP

asalguero@MiamiHerald.com

In the days before he reportedly checked himself into an Arizona psychiatric facility, Richie Incognito was calling some friends at odd hours, apparently after drinking, and leaving messages about being followed by NFL and government investigators.

He complained that his agent, California-based David Dunn, was actually a “double agent” helping the NFL end his career and adding he was going to “track Dunn down and fire him face-to-face.”

And then this from one associate who talked to Incognito before the former Dolphins offensive lineman apparently took a baseball bat to his own $295,000 Ferrari FF:

“He’s in Arizona now and all he does is work out during the day and get drunk every night. The way things have been going lately, I keep expecting to hear the worst.

“You media guys talk about where he’s going to be playing next season. I wonder if he’s going to be alive next season.”

The man at the center of the Dolphins’ harassment scandal has been in full and public meltdown mode since the Ted Wells report was released Feb. 14.

But another source says Incognito’s problems date back to a time before the Wells report became public. That source says Incognito has been acting like “he’s off his meds and drinking” since early February.

“I knew Richie when he was in trouble early in his career and it was great when he got help and got straight. But what I’m seeing and hearing now, this is definitely bad Richie all over again.”

Whoever “bad Richie” is, he’s obviously prone to erratic mood swings.

Consider that before the Wells report was released, Incognito went after Jonathan Martin on Twitter. He told Martin, his former Dolphins teammate and the protagonist in the report, that “the truth is going to bury you and your entire camp.”

Days later, Incognito apologized to Martin.

When the Wells report was released and its narrative painted Incognito as the ringleader of those making Martin’s time with the Dolphins unbearable, Incognito publicly challenged the report’s findings as inaccurate.

He later apologized, although not directly, to the NFL and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

And privately, Incognito is said to have been rocked by the report and the public’s negative reaction to him following the report.

The day the Wells report was released, many of Incognito’s approximately 90,000 Twitter followers began attacking him as a racist, a bully, and other things not suitable for publication.

One person encouraged Incognito to “die [expletive].”

“Please stop the hate,” Incognito replied. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Then Incognito changed as the onslaught continued. He retweeted 26 of the people hating on him over a two-hour span. Then he announced he was quitting Twitter.

“Goodbye twitter,” he wrote. “Be well. See you on the other side.”

The other side came the following Monday, Feb. 17, when Incognito returned to the same Twitter account he had deactivated only three days before.

“What’s up twitter,” he wrote. “Happy Monday.”

Incognito’s mood swings showed in his feelings for his agent. He told multiple people he believed Dunn was working against him. He told people Dunn was in cahoots with Ted Wells and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. He promised he was going to fire Dunn. Then he went on Twitter, again, and tweeted this to the firm Dunn founded:

“Shout out to @AthletesFirst. I love you. I will never ever FIRE you.”

Incognito’s behavior soon became something of a soap opera. It’s bad when one becomes a recurring character in TMZ-related news and Incognito was featured on no less than five reports on the website the past couple of weeks.

There was the report about Incognito’s parents being in the middle of a divorce. That process apparently began Oct. 31, only three days before the Dolphins suspended Incognito for his role in the harassment scandal.

(It is unclear, by the way, if the suspension put financial pressure on Incognito because he was not paid initially and TMZ reported he had been supporting both parents and his brother for years “during extremely hard financial times.”)

And then came the Ferrari incident.

Incognito said the day the car was delivered was “the happiest day of my life.”

Well, the object of joy bore the brunt of a fit of rage when Incognito, by his own admission, took a baseball bat to the car — denting the hood, busting lights and hitting the thing so hard the wooden bat’s handle broke off.

Incognito left the handle lodged in the car’s grill.

When a TV reporter in Phoenix asked why he had done this, Incognito smiled his boyish smile and politely said, “The Ferrari is a story onto itself.

“That was just me venting. That was my self-expression. That was a piece of art.”

That picture Incognito has been painting is worrisome. He needs help and, interestingly, acknowledges that need to some friends. Then he changes his mind and talks about “moving on” and “letting the past be the past.”

“Believe it or not, Richie can be the coolest guy in the room,” one source said. “He’ll hug you up, he’ll talk to you and try to make you feel welcome when other people won’t. But when he starts drinking, when he’s got his mental issues, when he’s not right, I don’t want to be anywhere around him because bad [expletive] is about to happen.”

Read more Armando Salguero stories from the Miami Herald

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