Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito pushed back at charges he played dirty in the team's loss against the Houston Texans on Sunday. A day after Texans DT Antonio Smith accused him of doing "everything illegal that can be done on the football field," Incognito says that used to be how he played football, but no longer.
On Sunday, Smith said of Incognito, "A dirty player being let to play dirty." He added, "Mainly he was hitting people after the play, sliding down on your leg grabbing your ankle and trying to twist to break your ankle and he was doing it right in front of the referees and he was still in the game."
But Incognito said Smith doth protest too much. "There was a lot of whining going on out there, and it went to the refs, and then the whining continued to the media after the game," Incognito said.
Not that Incognito hasn't been called dirty player before, however. "It's a label that has been with me since I was a younger player, when I quite frankly did play dirty and I would go after guys," Incognito said Monday. "The first couple of years in St. Louis, I was playing frustrated football. I wasn't mature enough to handle the situations we were in. We were doing a lot of losing."
"So I think back then the tag was deserved. I have evolved, and I think that label still sticks. Once you're labeled with it, it's very hard to shake."
Incognito can at least say Texans coach Gary Kubiak is on his side regarding the dispute. After watching game tape of Smith and Incognito, he said, "Those two had a heck of a battle going on all day long."
"I didn't see anything different from what you normally see week to week," he added. "I just saw two guys getting after it."
Incognito was called for two holding penalties Sunday, while Smith had half a sack as well as a quarterback hurry. The fact that Smith was so successful on Sunday might explain why he could have resorted to extralegal tactics (or it's proof that Incognito couldn't have been playing dirty).
"I understand it," Incognito said of the accusations. "I play a physical brand of football, and I get after people in between the whistles. I do everything in my power to keep them off our running backs and quarterbacks. So of course there is going to be some displeasure with it."
At least Smith gets to temper his displeasure with the satisfaction of a victory.