Richie Incognito : The Tip of the Iceberg?

John MartinContributor IJune 1, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 21:  Richie Incognito #68 of the St. Louis Rams looks on during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 21, 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri. The 49ers won 17-16. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Richie Incognito has received some attention in the press recently.

In his article Good and Nasty on May 27th, Pete Prisco of CBS Sportline listed the top ten meanest and dirtiest players. Our beloved guard, Richie Incognito, was on that list.  Surprise, surprise!

Incognito is known by divisional opponents for his cheap shots and for playing past the whistle, and known by the fans for his verbal chastising of Ram’s fans, questioning their support and loyalty to the team. Honestly he really questioned the fans intelligence. The self-proclaimed “Sheriff” has made the big time!

He plays with a passion, a little fire in the belly. In Richie’s case, his passion is somewhat misguided at times. After one indiscretion with fans, Jim Hassett stated that he had lost control of his emotions. I am not sure he ever had control though. When Spagnuolo showed up with his new staff people thought that Richie’s turbulent tenure with the Rams was over.

Personally, I like mean and nasty lineman and Richie Incognito is certainly one of them. The man is a mauler. A third round draft pick out of Nebraska, he was considered a first round talent, but between a knee injury prior to the draft and potential issues with his “attitude” he fell to the Rams in the third. After spending his first year on the disabled list he became a versatile starter in the Rams offensive line, with starts at guard and center.

Now we turn to an article the same day in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by Bill Coats entitled Rams' Incognito Looks To Repair Image With Fans. Suddenly we are reading about a more mature, insightful Richie Incognito. One who has learned the error of his ways, and is planning on taking a positive step forward to becoming a better and more complete football player.

Did he just have some sort of epiphany? Did he wake up before OTA’s and say, “I need to adjust my attitude"? Personally, I think Richie will have to remain under the radar of the fans and referees for at least a year before they forget.

Somehow I don’t think Richie had a mystical visitor. I wonder if it has something to do with the new organization. Maybe we are seeing Spagnuolo’s four pillars as results and not just words at the podium.

I got a chill up and down my spine when I thought about it. Converting Incognito by harnessing the passion and focusing the emotion? Who would have ever dreamed.

He may be just the tip of the iceberg.