Rams Release Richie: a Sign of Weakness or Strength?

In a way, this was inevitable. Richie put Coach Spagnuolo in a no-win situation in this last weekend’s games, refusing to play “team first” football. And after numerous voices in the media calling to make the move, the Rams have released Incognito.

In the fallout of this move comes a notable comment from ESPN’s NFC West blogger, Mike Sando:

I wonder if the 49ers would be wise to consider adding Incognito, if not now, then possibly in the offseason. Coach Mike Singletary might be strong enough to keep Incognito in line.

Singletary’s handling of Vernon Davis, another reputed locker room cancer, lends some credence to this take. But are we also to conclude that this move should be seen as a sign of weakness on Spagnuolo’s part? Is sticking to your principles in the most difficult circumstances imaginable not a sign of strength?

This was not the easy decision to make by any means — cutting one of your more talented blockers, and weathering the inevitable fallout when the Rams’ offense continues its season-long struggles. When Richie first acted up in Week 1, RamsHerd offered an in-depth take on whether he might be the next Lawrence Phillips, and a poll of RamsHerd readers were pretty evenly split about whether Spagnuolo should cut him on the spot. A small majority favored giving Spagnuolo a chance to turn him around, and for about a month’s worth of games, that approach paid off. This was what I wrote at the time:

For Incognito, Sunday’s antics represent a series of all-too-familiar events. Stupid plays, followed by temporary contrition, followed by keeping his nose clean for a short period of time.

I personally think it would be interesting to see Singletary take up this challenge, and see how long he puts up with Richie’s BS before kicking him to the curb.

It’s also interesting to read Richie’s comments after the move was made. Clearly he’s not lacking smarts and class off the field. It’s just on the field that counts.

“I passed along to Spags and Billy. I told them they’re doing a wonderful job. I really do think Spags is doing a great job. It’s obvious what the team needs here — and it’s talent. It’s not a lack of coaching. And it’s not a lack of desire. It’s just a lack of talent right now. And they’ll get that sorted out. They’re the right men for the job.”