Thug yes but due process must be served
All the reports out of Garland, Texas indicate that the incident involving Aqib Talib is a particularly unsavoury one. And the overnight news of an arrest warrant does seem to indicate that the Bucs' top corner is going to find himself with a lot more coverage than he gives opposing receivers.
But does this mean at this stage that you just cut the guy? Can anyone honestly criticise the Buccaneers for not taking a knee-jerk reaction as some local media writers have been requesting? Does the phrase "innocent until proven guilty" ring any bells?
The most hypocritical of all would be local Tampa sports radio host Steve Duemig who had his posse of rent-a-clowns phoning in demanding Talib's locker be thrown out of One Buc Place, preferably with him still inside. I don't believe Duemig was quite so demanding of immediate non-court action when he was arrested for drink driving in the past.
There is little doubt that a player's importance to a team has a bearing on what action is taken over off-field incidents. Talib will be treated differently to the likes of Jerramy Stevens or Marcus Johnson because he is a better player. And this is found all round the sporting world as the recent Ashley Cole shooting incident at Chelsea proved. Do you think it would have been handled differently if the workplacement student had shot Cole with an airgun instead of the other way round?
Talib does seem to be a truly unpleasant individual. There is no smoke without fire and right now his resume looks like that of a serial arsonist. And there were enough red flags from his college days to indicate this could happen but hey, if you can shut down an outside receiver, that's fine by NFL standards.
Roger Goodell has already given Talib a one-game suspension for his assault on a St.Petersburg cab driver and even if Talib walks away from this one unscathed, then the Commissioner is going to instigate his own form of justice under his Personal Conduct policy. I have no problem with the latter because it is about avoiding these situations in the first place even if no criminal charges end up being filed ((Roethlisberger, Ben your honour).
But the Buccaneers are doing the right thing in waiting it out. What if they had decided Tuesday afternoon to just dump Talib and then the police announced it was all a misunderstanding and they were actually after someone else? Just let those talk show calls and potential legal ramifications weigh in your minds for a little.
If Talib is arrested, then suspending him would be the right next step. That is the Bucs doing it if they can based on contract rules, not the NFL. And then if he is incarcerated, dump his ass as quickly as possible. If some other team (aka the Bengals) want to re-sign him after he gets out, that is there perogative. No comeback on the Bucs in years to come for supposedly allowing a really good player to get away.
Some NFL players simply will never learn. Plaxico Burress is now out of jail and looking for an NFL team (good luck with that one). There will be more stories of guns, drugs and other unsightly incidents to follow because that is life. As JP Peterson often tells me, it is all about natural selection. Some have the ability to learn and some do not.
But the one over-riding thought I have from this whole incident is that I would far rather be writing about draft prospects and free agency possibilities. Not the situation of No.25 finding himself in a Texas jail on felony charges. It is just another nail in the coffin of support for a sport that I used to love a whole lot more.
You've been great, enjoy Guns n' Roses