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Richie Incognito: Still searching for lesson of Bullygate

Three years later, Richie Incognito has came out the other side of the harassment scandal that helped blow up the 2013 Miami Dolphins better than anybody.

I'm glad to see it.

Incognito has apparently found an NFL home with the Buffalo Bills. They love him.

"Well, I just let him know that everybody makes mistakes in life. I’m certainly one that’s made several in my life," Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan said of Incognito. "But you know what? Everybody deserves another opportunity as well and, with Richie, I saw a guy that – you know, there are no do-overs. But he owned it, he did everything, and he has been unbelievable here. In fact, he’s a leader here. Every teammate respects him and he’s earned that right.

"The people in our community look up to Richie and everybody loves him. I can’t speak to what happened in the past. I can tell you what he’s doing right now and he’s been outstanding on the football field, in the classroom and in our community."

And Incognito loves them back.

The Miami Dolphins? Incognito keeps in contact with several of the team's players. He even keeps in contact with former coach Joe Philbin. But owner Stephen Ross, who threw Incognito under the bus and took Jonathan Martin's side? Not so much.

Last year, Incognito's first with the Buffalo Bills, the South Florida media requested to talk to the offensive lineman on a conference call. Either because Incognito declined or the Bills didn't want to go there, that conference call never happened.

On Wednesday, that awaited conference call happened. And this is everything Richie said about, well, everything ... including friend turned former friend Jonathan Martin:

Q: What has your life been like in the last two years?

A: "Last two years have been good. I think Terry and Kim Pegula, Doug Whaley, Rex (Ryan), they all stuck their neck out on the line for me. They brought me in and gave me an opportunity to come up here and reestablish myself in the league and get back to playing football and it’s been great. You know, they welcomed me with open arms and you know, I think about repaying them every single day with just hard work and being better. Getting the most out of my teammates."

Q: Were you given any guidelines of what you couldn’t do to stay a member of the Buffalo Bills?

A: "No, no guidelines. One thing I believe helped was Tony Sparano coached with Rex in New York and Dave DeGuglielmo, the offensive line coach, coached with Rex. So they had good insight into who I was and what I was about. So when I sat down with Rex, he said “we know who you are, we know what you’re about. We just want you to come be yourself, be comfortable and, you know, help this team win."

Q: Now what was your life like three years ago?

A: "It was nuts, man. It was nuts. It got turned upside down, you know? You guys had a front row seat to the circus. You know, middle of the season we’re grinding, we’re trying to get wins. We started that season 3-0 and you know we’re really feeling good about ourselves, and hit a rough patch and then the whole incident went down. I’m a pariah in the national media and basically turned radioactive there for a few months. And you know, that was it. It was crazy. It was a crazy and surreal experience to go from within the locker room, a member of the Miami Dolphins, to just kind of an outcast, to kind of just out there."

Q: And what was the hardest part about that?

A: "You know, the hardest part about it was not being able to play, and not being able be with my teammates. You go from being in the locker room with the guys, you’re part of the team, to you’re being suspended. And your off in your own little world. It was incredibly difficult at that time because all I wanted to do was be with my teammates, be with my guys that supported me. Be with my guys in the locker room."

Q: In the aftermath of what happened, you talk to the other guys on the team, and all of these guys came out in support of you. I don’t think I talked to anyone in support of Jonathan Martin. What did that mean to you?

A: "You know, it meant a lot to me. It meant a lot. You know, you don’t really know how people really feel about you until something like that goes down and I have a tremendous amount of respect for guys in that locker room like Mike Pouncey, Ryan Tannehill, Reshad Jones, Cameron Wake. Each of those guys to a man—not only, one, tell the truth but two, speak so highly of me. They made me very proud and you know I was proud to have been associated with him and have been out on the field and played with him. And that was a cool and special moment to me because, during that whole time it was so crazy and there was so much stuff being said, and to hear my guys say that and stick up for me, it was really special for me."

Q: Have you had any conversation at all with Jonathan Martin in the last three years?

A: "He’s reached out and tried to speak a few times but I have nothing to say."

Q: How often do you keep up with trying to keep in touch with guys on the Dolphins?

A: I speak with guys routinely. It’s tough during the season because we’re kind of doing our thing but spoke with (Kraig) Urbik last week, saw Tannehill last time I was down so we’re still close. I still read the Sun and the Herald, read all the stuff that’s going on down there. I keep up with the guys and, you know, I’m still pretty close with a lot of guys down there."

Q: You ran for 312 yards last week. What has really been the difference these last four games?

A: "You know, we changed coordinators, we started 0-2 and it served as a huge wake up call when we fired Greg Roman. You know, a lot of guys—you know, we approached it the right way. Instead of pointing fingers and placing blame, guys started pointing fingers at themselves and started saying “we need to play better, we need to play up to our potential. I think Anthony Lynn has done a great job coming in and simplifying it for us. We’re just going out and we’re playing. We’re confident in the game plan, we’re taking ownership in the gameplan, and we’re executing on Sunday’s."

Q: When was the last time, if at all, you spoke to Steve Ross in the aftermath of what happened? Did you ever talk to him?

A: "No. Mr. Ross never reached out to me and I haven’t had a word with Stephen Ross since before my suspension."

Q: What about Joe Philbin?

A: "Yeah. Coach Philbin and I, we stayed in contact through the whole thing. You know, we spoke kind of routinely through the suspension and then after the season. And then you know, Joe came up to me and congratulated me last year when we came to play you guys early in the season. And then I saw Joe in the preseason with the Colts."

Q: How’s the Ferrari?

A: "Hah! The Ferrari’s great man. I got rid of the black Ferrari and got a Rolls Royce, the race two-door."

Q: What are we supposed to learn and take from Bullygate?

A: "You know, I don’t know. I think I’m still searching for the lesson in all of it. Everything went down the way it did and I think there was what happened in the media and then actually what happened. And only me, Jonathan Martin and the guys in that locker room know exactly what happened. And that sticks. So as far as lesson, I think it’s tough.

Q: You say only you, Jonathan Martin and the guys in that locker room know exactly what happened. Is there anything that you want people to know that they don’t know now?

A: "You know, I think the story’s kind of played itself out. Jonathan and I were close friends. I cared about him. If anyone was there for Jonathan, it was me. And Jonathan had his troubles. He had his demons, like we all do. And he left for whatever reason, and he handled it the way he did. And then the story kind of takes on a life of its own and there’s the narrative that Jonathan and his camp wants you to believe, and then there’s, like I said, what me, Mike Pouncey, what John Jerry, what Jim Turner, what we know what happened. And I can sleep good at night knowing what happened and what my actions were. I’m not saying I was a saint but I sleep well at night knowing what I did.

Q: Do you feel like you were used as a payday?

A: "I don’t know. I really don’t know."