Eric Wood remembers the encounter like it was yesterday. He was out for dinner in the Phoenix area the week of Super Bowl XLIX in January 2015, and he bumped into Richie Incognito, who had been his teammate for three games late in 2009, Wood’s rookie season with the Bills.

At the time, Incognito was out of the NFL, having been banished since the middle of the 2013 season due to his involvement in a bullying scandal involving his former Miami teammate, Jonathan Martin, and with the Super Bowl in his hometown, he was making the rounds in search of a new team.

“I knew Richie prior to the suspension, I knew what he was all about, what type of player he was, what type of person he was,” Wood said the other day after learning that Incognito had been selected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad for the third consecutive year. “Me and Doug Whaley had a conversation about him, and there was some mutual interest. So, we had talked to each other Super Bowl week out in Arizona and I told him, ‘You’re the type of guard I’d like to get into Buffalo.’ ”

Incognito, who had enjoyed his brief stint in Buffalo at the end of 2009 after he’d been released by the Rams and before he signed a free-agent deal with the Dolphins, took that to heart. He met with Terry and Kim Pegula, who had just taken over ownership of the Bills in late 2014, and they agreed to give him a chance to alter the narrative of his career.

“We are convinced that Richie is prepared to move forward and has and will continue to take the necessary steps to improve himself as a person and a teammate,” the Pegulas said in a statement.

Turns out they were right. The Bills haven’t yet made the playoffs with Incognito on the team, but he has been a tremendous asset both on the field with his Pro Bowl-level performance, and as a trusted veteran leader in the locker room, a player that other players gravitate toward and rely on.