Bills sign Incognito, key figure in bullying scandal
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Richie Incognito is getting another chance in the NFL.
The Buffalo Bills signed the nine-year veteran guard on Monday, providing a second opportunity after his career was derailed by the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal in 2013.
It will be Incognito's second stint with Buffalo; he started three games with the Bills in 2009.
"I personally met with Richie regarding an opportunity to earn a spot on the Buffalo Bills roster," Bills owner Terry Pegula said in a statement, adding that general manager Doug Whaley, new coach Rex Ryan and Pegula's co-owner, wife Kim, also spoke with Incognito. "Obviously, we all discussed Richie's past experience in the NCAA and NFL.
"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. Following discussion with the rest of the coaching staff, we as an organization will provide him with the opportunity to do so."
The 6-foot-3, 319-pound Incognito was a free agent and had been out of football since being suspended and missing the final eight games of 2013. The discipline came after an NFL investigation determined Incognito and two other Dolphins offensive linemen persistently harassed teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team. Martin spent last season with San Francisco.
The Bills went through numerous starting guards last season.
Ryan, coincidentally, used the word "bully" in vowing he wanted to build a tough team, during his introductory news conference in Buffalo.
"We're going to build a bully and we're going to see if you're going to play us for 60 minutes," Ryan had said.
Incognito had established a reputation for having a mean streak even before the bullying scandal. Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus once called Incognito "the dirtiest player in the NFL," following a game against the Dolphins.
Several teams considered signing Incognito last season before turning elsewhere. That included the Buccaneers in August, when coach Lovie Smith confirmed he planned to meet with Incognito to determine if the player was a good fit for Tampa Bay.
"If you know my history, I do believe in second chances," Smith had said. "To me, nobody should have a death sentence."
A year ago, Incognito received unspecified treatment in the aftermath of the scandal.
In March, after his contract expired, Incognito posted messages on his Twitter account saying he was looking forward to "getting back to work ASAP."
After a college career at Nebraska marked by several fights and suspensions, Incognito was selected by St. Louis in the third round of the 2005 draft. He failed to sign a contract with the Rams until Week 3 of his rookie season, and then missed the rest of the year after being placed on the team's non-football injury list.
He spent the next three-plus seasons in St. Louis before wearing out his welcome. The Rams placed him on waivers and he was claimed by Buffalo. He played three games with the Bills, but was not re-signed. Overall, he has appeared in 102 games.