(Reuters) - Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito, released in 2013 by the Miami Dolphins for his role in a bullying scandal, admitted on Tuesday that playing his former team this weekend will have “a little more meaning” than other games on the schedule.
Incognito, however, said it is time to move on from the episode that rocked the National Football League and nearly ended his career.
“I’m personally motivated for every single game I play in,” Incognito told reporters in Buffalo. “I’m juiced up. I‘m amped up for every single game. This one just has a little more meaning.”
Incognito, 32, was at the heart of a bullying scandal regarding the treatment of former Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin midway through the 2013 season.
Martin, who is black, said he had been subjected to harassment, which an investigator said included racial slurs and sexual taunts about his mother and sister.
A 2012 Pro Bowler, Incognito, who is white, was suspended for the final eight games of the season when the scandal erupted and then cut. He missed all of last season. The Bills signed him to a one-year deal in February.
“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.
“Probably the Monday Night Football guys will be bringing it up five years from now.”
Incognito, selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, said he was not out for revenge when the Bills visit the Dolphins on Sunday.
”I don’t think it’s personal,“ he said. ”It’s one of those things wherein professional sports you kind of cross paths with one of your old teams, and you want to give it to them, you want to play well and you want to come away with a win.
“Especially since I’m so close to 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 there and compete with them.”
Despite missing all of 2014, Incognito hasn’t lost a step.
“I’ve been through a lot since I’ve been down there,” he said. “There’s been a lot of a time taken for personal growth and a maturation process.”
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Eric Beech