NFL offensive lineman Richie Incognito was announced Friday as the “first national ambassador” of an anti-bullying organization based in Los Angeles.
Boo2Bullying, a non-profit group founded in 2011 with the mission of “outreach, education, mentoring, inspiration and support for our youth and their families,” said Incognito will be introduced at an event later this month. Incognito, who is currently a free agent, was at the center of a bullying scandal while a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2013.
NFL investigators concluded Incognito and two of his teammates engaged in a “pattern of harassment” against then-Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. The Dolphins suspended Incognito, who disputed claims made in the NFL’s investigation, and he later spent the 2014 season out of football before signing with the Bills in 2015.
Incognito abruptly retired in April by sending a tweet to the NFL Players Association that he was “done” playing football, days after also firing his agent in a tweet. Incognito later asked the Bills to release him from the retired list in hopes of playing for another team; Buffalo did so on May 21.
Two days after being released by Buffalo in May, Incognito was taken in custody by Boca Racon, Florida police after an alleged disturbance at a gym. Incognito spent three days in a mental hospital as a result of the incident.
At the time of his retirement, Incognito remained under investigation by the NFL for an allegation made by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue that Incognito used racial slurs during the Bills’ AFC wild-card playoff loss to the Jaguars in January.
In a news release issued Friday by Boo2Bullying, Incognito called bullying a “national crisis,” said the cause aligned with his values and added, “I can personally relate to it from both sides — being bullied and being accused of being a bully.”
Incognito also revealed he was the target of bullying in high school.
“A group of guys actually threw rocks at me,” he said. “My dad told me not to worry and to focus on football. So I grinded, and at this point I was really starting to excel. After a few weeks of not letting it bother me, I actually became friends with the guys that bullied me. They are still my friends today, and anytime I go home now, I make sure we find some time to catch up. It just goes to show what can happen when you actually take the time to get to know someone, instead of treating them a certain way because they are different than you.”