After the Houston Texans beat the Miami Dolphins this weekend, the Texans' Antonio Smith reported that, during the game, Miami left guard Richie Incognito had attempted to break Smith's ankle. Smith called Incognito a "dirty player being let to play dirty."
Smith continued, saying, "Everything that's illegal that can be done on the football field he does it, but mainly he was hitting people after the play, sliding down on your leg grabbing your ankle and trying to twist to break your ankle and he was doing it right in front of the referees and he was still in the game. It's the referees' job to stop him from doing it because everything that I would do to stop him I would get a penalty for.
"I told myself you've got to humble yourself and keep playing. There were so many times that I would have to loved [it] to just be like hockey. Drop the helmets off, drop the gloves, go fisticuffs. We're men. Let's go at it."
Incognito responded to Smith's allegations, stating:
"I will never apologize for the way I play football. Physical- Hard Nose football from snap to whistle. Get with it or get run over by it. It's a label that has been with me since I was a younger player, when I quite frankly did play dirty and I would go after guys. The first couple of years in St. Louis, I was playing frustrated football. I wasn't mature enough to handle the situations we were in. We were doing a lot of losing. So I think back then the tag was deserved. I have evolved, and I think that label still sticks. Once you're labeled with it, it's very hard to shake."
Now, a replay of the game coverage has been released, showing the specific play where Incognito allegedly tried to break Smith's ankle. It is a strange play, and Incognito clearly has a hold of Smith's leg and is pulling him back.
Incognito responded again today, turning to Twitter to retell his side of the story:
@68incognito No twisting or turning of the leg. 10 yard penalty..... YES.What is the penalty for kicking someone in the back of the neck?— Richie incognito (@68INCOGNITO) September 12, 2012
Incognito also sent direct Twitter messages to Pro Football Talk about the situation. According to Mike Florio, Incognito explained:
"I have seen the video. Once the ball was fumbled I grabbed his legs to stop him from recovering the fumble. It's clear that I wrap my arms around both his legs. I was trying to keep him from scrambling to the ball.
"After the ball was recovered I felt him kicking me. I was trying to protect myself. Kind of like a turtle in a shell. At no time was I turning his ankle. My intent was to keep him from getting to the ball.
"Obviously in a case like this I have no ground to stand on [because] of my reputation. There is no evidence of me trying to injure him. The reason I'm seen holding onto one of his legs [because] he started kicking me in the arm and neck the the other. I had both legs in my grasp. The fact of the matter is I'm laying on his leg. There is no twisting motion whatsoever. He is clearly kicking me in the neck. Talk about dirty?"
As Dolphins fans, we all know that Incognito is intense on the field. We've all heard him described as dirty. We've all seen him take questionable shots at players, and he's gotten penalized when he has crossed the line. But, would Incognito actually try to intentionally break another player's ankle?
I don't know. I agree there is something strange happening in the video. I can see why Smith was bothered by it. But, at the same time, I can understand Incognito's side of the story as well.
As much as Texans fans may want to see what happens if Incognito ran into a Houston player in a dark alley at night, I might just put my money on Richie in that case.