Calling Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito a dirty player is nothing new. It's something that started when Incognito was with the St. Louis Rams, and, seemingly, continues to come up at least once a year now that he is with the Dolphins. Heading into NFL Week 4, Incognito's "dirty player" tag is coming up for the second time this year.
After Week 1 game against the Houston Texans, Texans defensive end Antonio Smith alleged Incognito tried to break his ankles. "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," Smith said. "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."
At the time, Incognito explained the "dirty player" label he has had his entire career. "I will never apologize for the way I play football,' Incognito explained. "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."
Incognito also sent out a series of tweets, explaining the specific play shown in the video above:
@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
The NFL appears to agree with Incognito's side of the story, fining Smith $21,000 for kicking the Dolphins' guard.
Now, as Miami gets ready to play the Arizona Cardinals later today, the "dirty player" tag has once again been applied to Incognito, this time from Cardinals defensive end Nick Eason. Eason, who is set to start in place of the injured Darnell Dockett for Arizona, played against Incognito and the Dolphins in 2009, when Eason was with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Apparently, Eason came away from that game with a distinct impression of Incognito, calling him "one of the dirtiest players in the NFL," this week on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
"I had a little experience with him many years ago when he spit in my face," Eason said. "I've never had a player or person in my life spit in my face. It took everything in my power to restrain myself because it was a really close game.
"I'm excited to see (him). Usually the players who do that are the non-athletic guys who can't block people, so they play dirty."
Before the Dolphins even get onto the field, already Incognito is being called out. Most likely, this is simply a ploy by Eason to get the referees to look at Incognito throughout the game, given that Eason is a player with a grand total of 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks over the past three seasons. He knows he is going to be starting this week, and the Dolphins will likely challenge him early and often, benefiting from the lack of Dockett on the field. If Eason can get the referees to watch Miami's offensive line a little closer, he will have accomplished something with his statements.
And since Eason added, "Definitely no retaliation. I won't do that and bring selfish motives into the game," prepping the refs seems to be the only real reason to talk about Incognito.