Richie Incognito, going into his 16th NFL season, has done it all in this league.
The Raiders left guard has proven to be one of the more elite at his position throughout his career. Incognito has four Pro Bowl selections, has played over 160 NFL games and is rated an 89 in Madden '22, releasing in August.
"I remember the years when I was playing in St. Louis, and they had me at like a 67 or a 73," Incognito joked about his past Madden ratings. "Everyone grew up playing Madden and to actually be a part of the game and ranked that high is awesome."
With nothing left to prove in his career, the 38-year-old Incognito has many people asking themselves a simple question: Why the hell is he still playing?
"I'm just still hungry," said Incognito. "I love the game. I love getting better. I love being in Training Camp and just getting challenged every day with the hard practices, the hot practices. ... I still love the grind and it comes from my passion for the game."
To add more insight into what's motivating Incognito to return, he missed all but two games last season due to a foot injury. The Raiders also have yet to get to the playoffs since he's been with the team, and he has been vocal about his desire to help lead them to their first playoff appearance since the 2016-17 NFL season. This upcoming season could be considered vindication and self-validation for the veteran guard, to get over the hump of returning from injury and reach playoffs.
"I was fighting to come back and play last year and the mindset after the surgery was, 'OK, it's not bad. Come back, kick ass, be back with the boys and go out on my own terms,'" Incognito told the media Monday morning. "I've been here since 2019 and we've had two hot starts in '19 and '20. I think it's time for us to just to put this all together and really make a deep run into December and January and ultimately get us into the playoffs."
Incognito has now labeled himself as the de facto leader of the offensive line after center Rodney Hudson was traded to Arizona Cardinals. Despite Incognito's displeasure in his younger teammates "terrible" and "nauseating" music choices, they have one thing in common with him – they're all hard workers who want to succeed just as bad as him. And he constantly makes sure they stay hungry, like himself.
"When I came in it was, 'Be quiet, get in the weight room, earn your reps, earn your spot.' Now these guys come in and it's Instagram and Twitter and all this hype. It's 'Oh, I did this in college' and they kind of live off that. It takes a year or two or three to learn what it takes to stick at this level and a lot of them don't learn it until they're out.
"That's what I'm constantly on these guys about. You've got to be hungry, every day. You've got to grind. You've got to really want this with every ounce of your body and put everything you have into this.
"I don't feel too old out there. I'm getting up there, but I don't feel too old."
Like fine wine, Richie.
The Raiders return to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for the start of Week 2 of 2021 Training Camp.