The Raiders need help at left guard. Richie Incognito is a Pro Bowl left guard. Raiders should sign him. That's the logic equation many fans have been using since it became clear the Dolphins were moving on from him. But there's a lot more to this equation that should be considered. Most notably the Wells report on the case between Incognito and Jonathan Martin who is accusing Incognito of harassment.
Up to this point, there was a lot of hearsay and he said, he said. The release of the text messages back and forth between Martin and Incognito was equally inconclusive. If anything the text messages gave off the appearance that the two players were very good friends and Martin's charges were baseless.
The report also doesn't limit the harassment and bullying to between Incognito and Martin. A few statements that stand out to me from the report as detailed by NFL.com are these:
"We find that the Assistant Trainer repeatedly was targeted with racial slurs and other racially derogatory language. Player A frequently was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching. Martin was taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments."
"We reject the assertion by Incognito that Martin has fabricated claims of harassment after the fact."
Incognito kept track of fines within the offensive line group. He fined himself $200 once for "breaking" Martin, which was causing Martin to crack. Incognito wrote down a number of fines for Martin after he left the team in October. The fines were for being a "pussy."
A text message Incognito sent to his offensive linemen in early November: "They're going to suspend me Please destroy the fine 4 book first thing in the morning."
"In short, the treatment of Martin and others in the Miami Dolphins organization at times was offensive and unacceptable in any environment, including the world professional football players inhabit,"
The "Executive Summary" of the findings has 15 takeaways: "1) Martin Was Subjected to Persistent Harassing Language. Martin was most troubled by persistent and graphic comments about his sister. 2) The Harassment Humiliated Martin and Contributed to His Mental Health Issues. 3) The Mistreatment of Martin Is Consistent with a Case of Workplace Bullying."
"With respect to the Assistant Trainer and Player A, Incognito's proffered excuses for the abuse were the same: it was all harmless fun, they willingly participated and joked back, and no one was offended. But just like Martin, the evidence shows that Player A went along with unwanted conduct because he was a young player."
See more from this report here.
Keep in mind Ted Wells is an independent investigator. He is not hired by either side to attack the other side and therefore the objectivity of his findings makes them all the more valid.
Also, consider much of this you may think of as simply how life is in an NFL locker room and that the Dolphins situation is in no way unique. That may or may not be true but the real question you must ask is if this is the kind of environment Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen want in the Raiders locker room and practice field.
And none of this even touches the reputation Incognito has as a player. He was named the dirtiest player in the league by a panel of his peers a few years back. The Raiders have long had issues with penalties killing their chances in games. You can bet the NFL referees would be watching him like a hawk and he gets no benefit of the doubt in on-field altercations.
There is no question incognito is a very talented guard, and the Raiders could use a player of his caliber. But judging by the character values the Raiders have focused on when acquiring players, it would suggest Incognito would not be a welcome influence on this young, rebuilding team.
Though I'm sure as long as there's a healthy, young, talented player out there to be had, fans will continue to want him on the team. It's just the nature of things.