NFL investigating whether or not Bucs’ corner Talib threatened official

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14: Cornerback Aqib Talib #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watches play against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the many bright young stars on the Buccaneers’ roster. His six interceptions tie him for second in the league behind the Eagles’ Asante Samuel (who has seven), and Talib continues to play at a Pro Bowl level this season.

But he can’t help the Bucs if he’s suspended, which may be the result of his actions following last Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the NFL is looking into a run-in that Talib had with a game official following Tampa’s 17-10 loss at Baltimore. Talib was furious with field judge Boris Cheek during the game about a pass-interference call on teammate Myron Lewis. Per the report, Talib lobbed a couple of expletives at Cheek as he left the field.

As the story goes, a member of the officiating crew told Talib, “You play like a (expletive).” To which Talib intelligently replied: “I’ll (hit) you in your (expletive) mouth.”

This isn’t the first time that the young corner has been in trouble. He’s already hit a teammate with a helmet in practice and he also punched a taxi driver in August of this year (which earned him a one-game suspension earlier this season). One more strike against him and it’s not unrealistic to think that he could be suspended for multiple games.

Of course, the league can’t have officials taunting and cursing at players. Talib was wrong to say what he did, but part of an official’s job is to keep the peace. How can a referee be trusted not to be biased if he’s verbally fighting with players after a game?

However the situation turns out, Bucs coach Raheem Morris would be wise to sit Talib down and express to him how much Tampa needs him on the field. I don’t see how this (below) helps Talib grasp the situation:

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said Morris. “He was just in conversation, so I’m not going to sit here and act like Aqib did anything wrong toward the official because I’m not into that. That’s between those two men, and whatever happened happened.”

Morris has done a great job in his second year and who am I to tell him how to run his team? That said, I’ve seen coaches play the role of friend with players before and it never works out. Teams can fracture when it’s perceived that one player is getting special treatment, especially when he acts like an idiot.

The Bucs have a good young team and it would be unfortunate if things were to unravel for Morris, who has transformed the Bucs into a competitor in only his second year. He has to find a way to get through to Talib so that these types of issues don’t keep surfacing.

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