Bills' Richie Incognito: 'I'm not a racist jerk'
Former Dolphins guard Richie Incognito signed with the Bills. (Doug Benz/Reuters/Files)
As he prepares for perhaps his last chance in the NFL, new Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito said he wants to prove "that I'm not a racist jerk."
Incognito was out of the NFL last year after he served an eight-game suspension in 2013 for bullying former Miami Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin.
The Bills signed Incognito, 31, on Monday after team leadership met with the controversial player last week and decided he was deserving of a one-year contract.
In that meeting, Incognito told owners Terry and Kim Pegula, general manager Doug Whaley and coach Rex Ryan "that I needed to respect those around me more and that I needed to realize I may find things funny that others find offensive. This whole learning process was about becoming self-aware, about becoming a better person/teammate/leader."
"We mutually expressed that this would be my last chance and we should look at it as a positive," he told NFL Media's Jeff Darlington. "Take the opportunity to bring attention to a sensitive subject while proving to people that I'm not a racist jerk. We talked about possible ways to turn this situation around and ways we can impact the community. We had a good talk for about an hour. They met separately. They then came back and said they would like me to be part of the organization."
Incognito spent about six weeks at McLean Institute -- a psychiatric hospital near Boston -- last summer, Darlington reported.
On Monday, Terry Pegula said in a statement: "We are convinced that Richie is prepared to move forward and has and will continue to take the necessary steps to improve himself as a person and a teammate. Following discussion with the rest of the coaching staff, we as an organization will provide him with the opportunity to do so."
A source close to Ryan -- who in his introductory news conference last month said "we're going to build a bully" -- told the Buffalo News on Saturday that Ryan considered Incognito a high-priority acquisition.