ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson on Thursday said he had spoken this week with Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito in the wake of the hazing scandal involving him in South Florida.
Olson coached Incognito in St. Louis as the Rams' offensive coordinator for the lineman's first two NFL seasons.
"He felt it was taken out of context, so he felt like he had a good relationship in that locker room with not only the player in question but most of the players in the locker room," Olson said of Incognito, who is accused of bullying fellow lineman Jonathan Martin.
Obviously, Olson and Incognito developed a friendship for them to remain in contact after Incognito's rookie year of 2006 -- and even after Incognito burned bridges in St. Louis with sideline outbursts, on-field fights and a confrontation with then-coach Steve Spagnuolo in 2009.
"When he became available and had the issues in St. Louis, I reached out there because that normally wasn't the Richie that I knew ... the issue with Spagnuolo and he went over the top there at the end in St. Louis, and that really was more about reaching out for help," Olson said. "I thought at that point, 'This guy's going to need help; he'll never play again in the National Football League.'"
Incognito was cut by the Rams on Dec. 15, 2009, and picked up by the Buffalo Bills two days later. He signed with Miami in March 2010.
"I had a chance to visit with him when I was in Tampa [Bay] and we played the Dolphins [in an exhibition game] and just felt like at that time he had turned the corner a little bit in terms of maturity and the importance of being a football player, but also being responsible in his actions," said Olson, who was the Buccaneers offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2008-11.
"So it was disappointing, again, some of the things that we're reading and hearing -- you just hope that it's not true. And with him, he feels like it's all been taken out of context."
Olson equated being a coach to being a parent.
"You try to guide your kids and try to give them the guidance that they need," Olson said, "but at some point they're going to go out and do their own thing."
And while Olson hopes the story is being overblown, there seems to be a pattern of behavior with Incognito, who was once voted the NFL's dirtiest player in a league-wide players poll. He was kicked out of college at Nebraska before trying to play at Oregon.
"I just think he brings, again, an element of that's what he is -- he's an element of toughness," Olson said. "I do believe that some of the things, they were taken out of context; I hope that's the case. Obviously, we all hope that's the case.
"But his personality is high-strung, very high-strung, was a tough player. But the other things outside that, I just think it's really sad, really sad, and you just hope that it's not true what's being said out there."