Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito understands his time with the Miami Dolphins has likely left a permanent stain on his career.
The central figure in a bullying scandal regarding the treatment of former teammate Jonathan Martin, Incognito knows there is no end in sight to the questions about his time in South Florida.
Naturally, that topic came up Tuesday as the Bills began preparations for their Week Three trip to Miami.
"I would hope that we could move past all this, but I definitely understand that it's still going to be prevalent, probably through the end of this year," Incognito said of addressing his tumultuous departure from the Dolphins midway through the 2013 season. "Probably the Monday Night Football guys will be bringing it up five years from now, so we'll see."
Even though it appeared his NFL career could be over after the Dolphins cut him, Incognito insisted this game wouldn't be personal.
"I think it’s one of things in professional sports where you cross paths with one of your old teams, and you want to give it to them," he said. "You want to play well and you want to come away with a win. Especially since I’m so close with some of those guys and have been competing with them for so long. It’s like a brotherly love. You want to kick your brother’s butt in anything you do. So it’s going to be fun to go down and compete with them.
“I’m personally motivated for every single game I play in. I’m juiced up, I’m amped up for every single game. This one just has a little more meaning. There’s obviously bigger things at play here. But for me it’s just focusing, going down there and playing physical, playing tough football.”
After being suspended for the final eight games of the 2013 season, Incognito was cut by Miami after that year. He spent all of 2014 out of football until the Bills offered him a one-year contract in February. So far, it's been a win-win for both sides. Incognito has recaptured the form of his last full season, when he made the Pro Bowl in 2012. Through two weeks, he's ranked second and fifth, respectively, among graded guards by the analytics website Pro Football Focus.
"I've been through a lot since I've been down there," Incognito said. "There's been a lot of a time taken for personal growth and a maturation process. Just kind of figuring out who I am and what I wanted out of my career and what I want out of life. Definitely made some big improvements, definitely made some strides from the situation in Miami and just really thankful for the opportunity to be playing again."
Bills coach Rex Ryan has a history of making players a captain when they face their former team. Incognito hasn't been told if that will happen this week, but got a laugh out of a question about what he thought the crowd reaction to him would be if he is.
"I have no idea what to expect," he said. "I've got a lot of friends in the organization. I've got a lot of friends that still play down there. I've got a lot of friends in the South Florida area. I've always had a lot of love from their fans, I've got a lot of respect for them. I really enjoyed my time there, so I expect nothing but love from them, because that's what I've got from them."
Story topics: Richie Incognito