Incognito: Disgraceful? Yes. Surprising? No. |

Incognito: Disgraceful? Yes. Surprising? No.

Chris Freud

We are outraged. We are offended. We shake our heads in dismay.

Truly, we are shocked, in a Claude Rains sort of way, to find out that Miami’s Richie Incognito was being such a SOB to teammate Jonathan Martin.

Should we really be that surprised?

There is a pact (consciously or not) we, as fans of football, make when we watch every Saturday or Sunday or Thursday or Tuesday (Thank you, ESPN, we really needed Buffalo-Miami of Ohio on national TV).

The game’s appeal is violence. We love the battle at the line of scrimmage, the sacks, the receiver going over the middle for a catch and getting smacked, even as the NFL and NCAA have tried to make football “safer.” Heck, we all go nuts on penalties like roughing the passer (Kevin Vickerson-Andrew Luck, Broncos fans?).

Support Local Journalism

When Von Miller is chasing down Philip Rivers this Sunday, Broncos fans will yell, “Get him,” or “Kill him.” (I’m not picking on Broncos fans here. That comes later in the column.)

‘Special people in our society’

Now, step back. The athletes of the sport are groomed from high school to turn their bodies into missiles. They are special people in our society from a very young age. Their faults as humans are overlooked as they move from high school to the NCAA to the NFL. Really, who says no to a budding star in high school or college? (Not a coach whose meal ticket are these players.)

They grow up in the violence of the game, and then everyone is surprised when their manners aren’t Emily Post (or worse) off the field with DUIs, drug issues, domestic violence and/or neanderthal-like “thinking” and behavior like Incognito?

Just as with Bounty-gate with the New Orleans Saints a year ago, hazing or bullying or whatever one calls Incognito’s behavior is not new. It’s just public in this case. If assorted reports that members of the Dolphins’ coaching staff did encourage Incognito to “toughen up” Martin prove true, then the NFL will come down on Miami like a ton of bricks because it’s in image problem in a $9-billion industry, and commissioner Roger Goodell is a master in covering-your-behind when it comes to the league’s brand. (See the concussion issue.)

And then we will continue on our merry way watching football. By the way, Monday Night Football is Miami at Tampa Bay. Enjoy.

Other bon mots:

• I know Broncos fans are jacked. Seriously, Battle Mountain alum Ascher Robbins needs to be sedated on Facebook. I like Denver’s chances of making the playoffs. (Big leap, Freud.) However, the weather is changing, and the Broncos will not be able to score 40 points per game. You need a running game and a defense come December and playoffs. And, no, RG3 chucking the ball up in the second half does not constitute a marvelous defensive performance on the Broncos’ part.

We’ll have a better picture of where the Broncos really are after the next four weeks — at San Diego, Kansas City, at New England, at Kansas City. Until then, don’t think about ordering Super Bowl tickets.

• Teams whose stock is rising: Chiefs, Colts, Patriots and 49ers. Falling? Seahawks and Packers. Nonexistent? Giants, Steelers and Vikings. Egad.

• The Avs are off to a hot start, and congratulations to them. Remember that we have a new playoff format this year — the first two rounds are within the division. That means that Colorado won’t get through either the Chicago Blackhawks or the St. Louis Blues. What is cool is that there is a better mathematical chance for Western teams to make the playoffs (14 teams for eight spots in the West and 16 for eight in the East). That’s well-deserved given the greater travel of the West, not to mention the conference’s superiority on the ice.

• The winner of tonight’s Oregon at Stanford game needs to be in the BCS Championship Game. I don’t care if Stanford has one loss in this scenario. Ohio State hasn’t played anyone. I still want to see Florida State, Baylor, Fresno State and Northern Illinois run the table to make the final year of the BCS a mess.

• Again, this is not hard, people. Oregon (Pac-12), Baylor (Big 12), Florida State (ACC), Houston/UCF (American, and last AQ year), Ohio State (Big 10/12/14), Alabama (SEC), Fresno State (Mountain West), Northern Illinois (MAC) and whoever wins Conference USA are the nine conference champs as it stands. Notre Dame doesn’t get in as an independent because it’ll be 9-3 at best. Wild cards are Stanford, Michigan State, Miami, Missouri, Auburn, South Carolina and Oklahoma. That’s 16. Northern Illinois is the No. 16 seed and plays Alabama, while the Conference USA champ is No. 15 and gets Oregon. At least everyone has a chance. Play them down.

The ratings would be huge. Dec. 28 would be the Final Four, and it just might get more viewers than those like the Belk Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. (I’m not making those up. Those are actual bowls.)

• And happy NBA season. Please wake me up for the playoffs.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and

Support Local Journalism