How important is this sport — about whose head-shattering vileness everyone, post-Incognito, is talking — to our universities?
The New York Times reviews the Incognito years – the glory years – at the University of Nebraska and the University of Oregon.
After a whistle at one [Nebraska] practice … he was accused of hitting a backup lineman, Jack Limbaugh. “He did that kind of thing to a lot of his teammates,” Limbaugh said. “I just walked off the field. A fight is what he wanted, but I wasn’t going there.”
Incognito was suspended for fighting in practice during 2003, and Nebraska sent him to the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kan., which treats psychiatric and behavioral problems. He was reinstated and was named an All-Big 12 Conference All-Star. But before the 2004 season, Incognito was found guilty of a misdemeanor assault charge. He was still on the roster until he fought a teammate in the locker room that summer. The new Nebraska coach, Bill Callahan, dismissed him.
He was quickly accepted into Oregon as long as he sought anger management therapy.
Incognito’s stay was less than two weeks, not long enough to even participate in a full practice. He never registered for any courses, according to the registrar’s office.
From an article written during his time at Nebraska:
“I don’t ever want to reduce anybody’s aggressiveness, ” [said] Barney Cotton, Nebraska’s new offensive line coach…
… Incognito is considered the brightest young star on the offensive line and has been mentioned in the same breath as former All-Americans such as Dominic Raiola…
Oh yeah RAIOLA!
Remember the Lions’ Dominic Raiola, another Nebraska offensive lineman by the way, verbally attacking the University of Wisconsin marching band before Detroit’s game in Green Bay earlier this season?
Ohio University currently enjoys the coach responsible for Raiola and Incognito – Frank Solich – and does it ever enjoy him!
Nothing sends a message of discipline to a college football team quite like its coach being passed out, drunk, at the wheel of a car pointed the wrong way on a one-way street.
Yes, that was ol’ Frank just a few years ago…
Incognito, Raiola, Solich…
Cornhuskers must be mighty proud! We need more of their All-American heartland values out here in cynical Washington DC.
[Football has] become the major theater of American masculine crackup…
[It] would be really good, it would be a really good thing, if the NFL moved its boundaries in such a way as to show some minimal respect for mental health.
… [W]hen a player says he needs time off for mental reasons — … in a sport with a suicide problem — it shouldn’t spark a national conversation on whether he’s soft.
You don’t think it’s true of college too? Read this post, and click on all the links.
UD thanks Timothy.
It’s truly fascinating to UD that the psychosis at the heart of university and professional football is now, thanks to Richie Incognito, openly discussed.
“Three teams [and two universities, Nebraska and Oregon] employed Richie Incognito… His ability to play to the edge of lawlessness is valued… He is a valued commodity in the NFL…”
The NFL generates billions of revenue dollars selling violence. Players are hired to perform acts of mayhem on the field. Such a profession attracts some menacing individuals with checkered citizenship records.
Former NFL coach Jerry Glanville talked about needing “borderline trained killers” on his team. In other words, he needed some Richie Incognitos to compete.
Commissioner Roger Goodell spends a lot of his time suspending players for various misdeeds, but that is just the PR side of the industry. He keeps the corporate sponsors happy by pretending to keep his work force wholesome.
His people will work overtime sanitizing the Miami situation. Look for the league to roll out extensive anti-hazing guidelines.
But the NFL will never change the essence of the sport and endanger the bottom line.
[The] NFL was fine with Richie Incognito’s insanity as long as he didn’t cross [the] PR line. …
[W]e don’t really care as long as our own needs are filled. Neither did three NFL teams. Neither did two college football programs.
And when one had finally had enough of his crap, somebody else was always willing to step up and take a shot on Incognito. Because he helped fill up the seats and turn on the TVs.
… If you can play, any antisocial behavior will be overlooked or at least rationalized, even if it’s borderline psychotic.
Football at the highest level welcomes sociopaths. As long as they don’t cross certain public relations boundaries that threaten the game’s or a team’s bottom line. Then, and only then, does football have a problem with people like Richie Incognito.
The fact is, we like our violence and we like it with an edge. And if once in a while, some crazy outlier takes his helmet off and swings it at another player or stomps on somebody after the whistle, hey, it’s great cooler talk after that dreary Monday morning status meeting, right? And all of us writers and bloggers have something to tee up and get page hits (with an accompanying video), right? I’m doing it now.
And so, we will wring our hands on the panel shows and act as if people like this are somehow out of the ordinary and not part of our slice of humanity while the game we love keeps rewarding them.
Who’s twisted? The outlaw player? Or all of us who help enable him?
OOOOHHH… Le Fooootball… C’EST MOI….
I mean, c’est the University of Miami, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Penn State University, Rutgers University, all them big-time universities out in front with academic fraud, sadistic coaches, child-predator coaches, booster-money-under-the-table players, professional agents drooling over the team… All of these schools have been grooming the next Richie Incognito…
And think about it. What’s the great crisis in university football today? Empty stadiums, that’s what. Why aren’t people coming to the games? Why, why, why?
Well, one possibility is that they’re disgusted by the comprehensive scumminess, the super-insulting farce, of big-time university football. They’ve got this vague feeling there’s something of a disconnect between what you just read up there in this post and the university.
But another possibility, if the guy I just quoted is right, goes in the opposite direction: The sport isn’t violent and twisted enough.
If he’s right, Richie can turn challenge into opportunity and open Incognito Consulting, a boutique firm specializing in turning sadists who get lost in the crowd into psychopaths who make entire stadiums stand up and cheer. Coming soon to a university near you.
We start to see how little Richie Incognito went wrong. His father, Richard Senior, seems to have plastered the house with Rockwell reproductions, which would generate rage in anyone.
At least Thomas Kinkade wasn’t famous yet when Richie grew up. He’d be in jail by now.
This one’s a beaut. I can’t quote it in full, but I’ll quote a little and you have to promise to go here and read the whole thing.
NFL BULLYING SEES INTELLECTUALS
AS PREY, EX-PATRIOTS TACKLE SAYS
Brian Holloway said he was one week into his National Football League career when he learned that his Stanford University education and academic interests would make him a target.
… Holloway said he was fined about $1,500 during his rookie season with the Patriots for reading a legal textbook that the team said was a distraction. He was also ridiculed by teammates for typing LSAT notes during plane rides.
The offensive tackle, who listened to opera for pregame inspiration, said there is an alliance that forms in locker rooms to ostracize players with elite academic backgrounds or eccentric interests.
“When they sense an intellectual is present, they will see that as prey,” Holloway said…
UD is laughing out loud, and she shouldn’t be, because she’s watching her modernism/postmodernism students do some in-class writing as she types this. But she SO loves this article! She demands more shocking exposés along these lines!!
UPDATE: An intellectual defends football:
Football tells us that violence can be beautiful when performed for the sake of a greater good. As American society has become more genteel, that premise has become a cultural fault line — the assumption from which all other assumptions flow. You either believe violence can, in fact, be beautiful, or you don’t. More specifically, you either think that football is a relatively harmless, darned entertaining outlet for the human need to compete, or, frankly, you just haven’t been paying attention.
Violence, for good and ill, is the beauty of it.
I thought I was paying attention…
Passed from hand to loving hand because he’s a violent psycho built like a brick shithouse … Passed from the University of Nebraska to the University of Oregon and then to the Rams and the Dolphins, the rich and celebrated football player Richie Incognito will be back on the field in a flash on some other team, as soon as he works his way through his latest dust-up; and the only reason the Dolphins are a mite nervous about this latest incident is that along the way it reveals that a lot of the other guys on the Dolphins team are … well… not certifiable, but in every other way strikingly similar to Richie.
Here’s how a Miami sports writer puts it:
This puts bullying on the NFL radar, at least. It forces the league to understand that it must be worried about more than just the concussion-related safety of its players or their arrests for stuff like DUIs or domestic abuse.
Yes, UD likes the way this guy puts it. Looks as though the NFL is going to have to start worrying about “not just” the concussion, DUI, and domestic abuse thing (yawn). Because le sujet du jour is bullying – regular old garden variety locker room bullying, as well as the incredibly well-compensated bats-in-the-belfry brutality of Incognito.
“Richie is … this seems to be a person with a tortured soul.”
Brace yourself for the Offensive-Linesman-as-Dostoevsky defense.
Brace yourself for the televangelist who will train Incognito to look like this on camera.
Male Empty Stadium Hysteria (MESH) rages on, this time in response to student indifference at Mr UD‘s University of Maryland. UM’s got a great winning record, and still students aren’t showing up for football games! Or they’re clearing out at half-time!
A local commentator (quoted in my headline) exhibits a classic MESH symptom:
Saturday, I wanted to puke. As the Terps were fighting desperately to hang on to beat Virginia – a rival they were playing for the last time – the Cavaliers were driving into the teeth of a student section that was, I don’t know, three-quarters empty.
UD doesn’t want to nauseate this man yet more, but she would note that his point about only six Saturdays a year cuts both ways. As in – yeah, only a very few days out of the year, but every UM student has to dish out tons of money for the program and spend hugely on game day and sacrifice lots of other varsity sports for the sake of the football program etc. etc. etc. Really, quite an immense burden for six Saturdays a year.
Of course, all this means is that you’re going to have to pay new presidents of jock-schlock schools even more. Sports whores don’t come cheap.
… or are leaving en masse after the first half, this one would have to be ranked very high indeed. It’s written by a local booster/newspaper columnist about Florida A&M, whose marching band two years ago hazed one of its musicians to death. Multiple manslaughter trials are ongoing. Why aren’t students going to the games? Hm. Hm.
The columnist’s one oblique reference to the pesky group manslaughter problem is this:
Last season, … the Marching 100 was idled and Future and other rappers were brought in for halftime performances …
And given the program’s violent propensities, does the choice of Future as their half-time stand-in seem to the writer a good one (sample lyrics here)?
The writer approvingly quotes one of his readers on the lack of fan support:
“If we treat our loved ones, friends and co-workers, wives and husbands the way we treat our beloved FAMU, with all its faults, and rebuilding seasons, no wonder marriages fail, friendships don’t last and we can’t even sell tickets to the game.”
Sweet phrases like rebuilding seasons are, uh, sweet, but, you know, until we learn how many dozens of FAMU band members are going to jail for how long I’m not sure we can start talking about this being the rebuilding season … To everything there is a season lalala, but group killing’s post-season seems to last a little longer than a few months. Ongoing disgust and embarrassment may account for a significant number of empty seats. People may remember, for instance, that FAMU blamed the murdered student for his own death.
As the University of Miami is also discovering, you don’t send your school barreling down shit’s creek for years and then, once you’ve paid your fines and sent people to jail and accepted – in the case of FAMU – the resignation of your president, turn around and welcome those tens of thousands of happy fans who’ve just been panting in the background, waiting to watch you play football again.
Having so many games available on television makes it tough to attract big crowds to the stadium.
That’s why North Carolina senior associate athletic director Rick Steinbacher says the challenge is to “try to make that in-stadium experience as unique and as special and as exciting as it can possibly be so it’s harder to choose to stay home than come to the game.
“Give the fans something unique and make them feel part of something when they’re in the stadium in a way that you don’t when you’re at home,” he said.
[Time] to grab hold of the third rail of Arkansas politics — athletic spending at the [University of Arkansas]. It’s a good time to do it. When the Hog football team is winning, no one dare utter a word about the sloppy, secretive and sometimes shady practices in the athletic kingdom… A big chunk of its money is laundered through the secretive Razorback Foundation… The money wouldn’t exist but for the university and its athletic department. But it is often spent in ways out of reach of public inspection. And sometimes, the numbers don’t match up.
By the way: The Razorback Foundation rarely responds at all to questions about its business…
As college football stadiums around America get emptier by the minute, we need writers like Dave Bratcher to remind us why we so love those Saturdays in the fall.
As we made our way into the stadium, a few things struck me. These things are applicable to life and need to be mentioned. Across the United States, Saturdays in the fall remind us of what true equality looks like, teach us why keeping score is important, and loyalty is not to be taken lightly.
When fans show up to cheer on their respective teams, discussions about race, religion, wealth, or family lineage do not factor into the discussion. The things which sometimes divide us, even on Sunday morning, are completely irrelevant on Saturday. Nobody cares what color, what church, how much money, or who their parents are. The identifying factors and circumstances of our lives are completely forgotten about when the teams take the field. This is to be praised.
Guess ol’ Dave missed the $100,000 per box luxury seating! Look up, Dave! See the rich people up there, divided behind glass enclosures from the yahoos? Only the rich people in the stadium get to drink alcohol, Dave! These things are applicable to life and need to be mentioned.