With most of the marquee free agents off the market, most of the free agency craziness safely past us and the fact that we’re still a ways off from the draft, it seems like sportswriters are really struggling to find things to write about. After all, how many times can we write about Mike Vick visiting the New York Jets and speculate about what a quarterback competition between he and Geno Smith would look like? It’s a tough time of year for NFL writers because other than the odd signing of a mid to low level free agent, there just isn’t much going on at the moment so they seem to be firing off purely speculative articles just to fill some copy. Enter NFL.com’s Michael Silver who penned an article that is ridiculous, bordering on the utterly absurd.
Silver’s article is a mind boggling exploration of his reasons for why the Oakland Raiders should pick up embattled offensive lineman Richie Incognito. As Silver puts it in the opening line of his piece, “If there were ever a 21st century football player to whom the term Born to be a Raider applied, Richard Dominick Incognito would seem to be that guy.”
Yeah, the idea that Incognito was “born to be a Raider” is highly debatable — at best. It’s a pretty line, sure, but it sounds more like a line written simply to fill up a little column space.
Silver goes on to make the point that back in the day, the Raiders were famous for giving second chances to players with checkered pasts. And that is true. The Raiders helped revive the careers of the some of the NFL’s notorious and downtrodden. But Silver knows better than that.
Citing the fact that he has played for Raiders OC Greg Olson, and offensive line coach Tony Sparano, Silver asked Incognito how he’d feel about donning the Silver and Black. Incognito replied:
“I’m 100 percent into that. I think that would fit my personality the best. It makes so much sense. I know Olson and Sparano, and I’m a loyal guy, and I’d love to play for them again. And, of course, the Raiders have that aura.”
100 percent into it or not, bringing Incognito would be a bad idea for a lot of different reasons. And the fact that Silver is even floating the idea out there makes one wonder if he’s been paying attention to any of the changes going on in Oakland these days. Gone is Al Davis. Gone is that outlaw swagger. Gone are the glory days — days that GM Reggie McKenzie is working hard to restore. But he’s doing it with his own gameplan — a gameplan that doesn’t seem to include characters like Incognito and the baggage he brings. One piece of said baggage is Incognito’s less than amicable past with new Raiders acquisition Antonio Smith. Sticking Incognito in the same locker room with Smith would be like flinging lit matches at a stick of dynamite — eventually that fuse is going to light and things are going to blow up.
If Michael Silver were paying attention to what is going on in Oakland at all, he would see that the guys McKenzie is bringing in during this free agency period are high character guys like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, James Jones and Tarell Brown — players with a reputation for putting their team first. These are players with a track record of success and of having a championship mindset. Incognito has none of those qualities.
People make mistakes, use poor judgment, and do stupid things. People deserve second chances. If Vick deserved one, Incognito does too. But not in Oakland. At one of the more critical points in franchise history, McKenzie is trying to things the right way. He’s trying to build a foundation for future success. He simply cannot afford to bring in the ticking time bomb that is Incognito, along with the media circus that is sure to follow him.
Incognito was not “born to be a Raider,” no matter how many times Silver types it out in his quest to fill some copyspace.