So, after a year of the most depressing off-field developments most of us have ever seen, has the National Football League really changed all that much?
Of course not.
Whether it was “bullying” last year or this year’s cascading episodes of unpleasantness, the NFL has employed the same methodology it always has on a broad, 30,000 foot level. Lots of cosmetic nonsense that will placate sponsors and the like, while its member teams continue to operate much as they did prior to any of the nastiness came into the public’s eyesight.
The Buffalo Bills signing Richie Incognito is, of course, not a surprise when you realize that the interior of their offensive line was the equivalent of a wet paper towel…which may be a tad unkind to paper towel.
The Bills announced their agreement in principal with Incognito on a Saturday in the time honored tradition of trying to minimize the coverage a story will receive. Of course, in the modern age of the never-ending, 24 hour NFL news cycle, this isn’t really all the effective anymore, but teams will still do anything and everything to try and minimize negative publicity.
Most folks reading this know the history, but if you don’t – here’s a bit of a taste of Incognito’s off-field issues.
But of course, none of that matters. Why would it? The Bills have a need and Incognito is an instant talent upgrade. It’s pretty simple. All the rest is so much hot air.
Teams want to win. Hell, coaches NEED to win. More and more, the average shelf life for an NFL coaching staff is shrinking and if employing the odd reprehensible asshole helps keep them employed, well, so be it.
Don’t believe me? Look no further than Ron Rivera stumping for the return of Greg Hardy.
Hardy is a real difference-maker on the field, the kind that can keep a coach employed. Naturally, his coach wants him back.
Now, I understand there are opposing viewpoints here. I understand people like Joe Banner taking a different avenue on this one. I actually tend to agree with Joe on a lot of the things he posits on Twitter.
But I could not disagree with him more here.
The “message” such as it is, is that the new owners want to win football games. The team has already fired up the “Incognito has learned his lesson” machine and will deal with any potential headaches that this signing might bring down the road.
That’s the NFL. Win at all costs. Deal with any possible consequences later.