Richie Incognito confirmed Thursday a report that he and Yannick Ngakoue met at the Pro Bowl on Wednesday and cleared the air on the controversy stemming from words exchanged between them in the Jan. 7 wild-card playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I saw him in the locker room, went up to him, said, ‘Good to finally meet you,’ " Incognito, the Bills' veteran offensive guard and a member of the AFC Pro Bowl squad, told The MMQB. "I apologized for my part in this, and I said I hope we can get a drink here and I can get to know you better. He was cool. We shook hands and hugged it out.”
Hours after the playoff game, Ngakoue, a defensive end for the Jaguars, accused Incognito of directing "weak racist slurs" at him during the game. He declined to specifically repeat the comments, but said, “When somebody says something about your ethnicity, that’s taking it too far. ... You can’t say certain things."
Since then, neither player had commented publicly on what took place until Incognito talked about it with The MMQB. Incognito said he attempted to contact Ngakoue the day after the game and eventually connected with him via a phone call arranged by the NFL Players Association.
The NFL said Monday it is still investigating the matter, although Incognito said, "I do think it's dead. I hope it can be put to bed."
Through a Jaguars spokesman, Ngakoue said he did not want to discuss the story any further. He said Wednesday that the two players spoke and that he was looking to move on.
“It was important for me to be able to speak man-to-man with Yannick about it,” Incognito said. “It was a reminder how powerful our words can be. But it gets crazy out there. Real crazy. Things are said and done on the football field that are never said off the field, never seen off the field.
"What happens on the football field very often is not a reflection of who we are as people. That’s why I wanted to see him here. It’s a great setting to talk as men. Yannick is celebrating his first Pro Bowl — much deserved, and he is a heck of a pass-rusher, and we had our hands full with him when we played. And I was glad we were able to get together as men and talk about it."
Incognito also recognizes that his reputation might be a factor in how the incident is being viewed.
“I have had the support of my teammates, and my friends on the Jacksonville squad who know me. I understand there’s a part of the population who hate my guts, and there’s nothing I can do or say to them that will change their minds. But the people who know me, and the people who respect me, those are the only people I really care about. And I think they know the real me.”