ALAMEDA — Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson is more troubled than he is surprised by the news surrounding suspended Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
Olson spent two years coaching Incognito when the two were together in St. Louis from 2006-07. Olson was the Rams' offensive coordinator while Incognito, a third-round draft pick in 2005, was still in the infancy of his NFL career.
Even then there were signs of potential issues with the 6-foot-3, 320-pound Incognito, whom Olson describes as being very high strung.
While Olson didn't have any problems with the player himself, he said Incognito appeared to be a player who "was going to need help" after he and former Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo got into a heated confrontation in 2009.
"That wasn't the Richie I knew," Olson said Thursday. "He went over the top there at the end in St. Louis. I thought at that point, 'This guy's going to need help. He'll never play again in the National Football League.'
"Then I had a chance to visit with him when I was in Tampa (and I) just felt like he had turned the corner in terms of maturity and ... being responsible in his actions."
Incognito was suspended by the Dolphins on Sunday night for conduct detrimental to the team amid accusations he bullied and threatened teammate Jonathan Martin, who has since left the team.
The situation has set off a firestorm across the country as fans, team executives, coaches and players have taken sides in the debate over the culture in an NFL locker room.
Olson has remained on friendly terms with Incognito and spoke with him by telephone this week. Olson wouldn't go into detail over what the two spoke about but said the lineman believes the situation with Martin has been taken out of context.