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June 2, 2011 @ 9:15 am
Current rating: 4.83 Stars/6 Votes

Barber Stands By Talib, Says Bucs Should Not Release Him

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Legendary Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber is showing his support for teammate Aqib Talib, who has been indicted on aggravated assault charges in Texas, and says that Tampa Bay should not release him.
Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber is disappointed that trouble has again found Aqib Talib, but Barber stands by the player he calls the best cornerback he’s ever played with. That’s high praise considering Barber played with former Bucs stars Donnie Abraham and Brian Kelly during parts of his 14 years in Tampa Bay.

But aside from being a great cornerback, Barber also believes Talib is a good person despite the fact that he has had some well-documented anger management issues – the latest of which has led to an indictment in Texas on aggravated assault charges.

“Much like [my brother] Tiki – and I know Tiki well and I’ve known Aqib for three years – he is complex,” Barber said of Talib. “It is too easy to simplify somebody and say they are a thug, he had a bad upbringing and [all that]. Some of that upbringing is part of what he is, but that is not who he is. I know him to be a great teammate. I know him to be a fun-loving, kind of gregarious guy. He likes to be the center of attention and he likes to have fun.”

Cornerback E.J. Biggers, who replaced Talib as the starting left cornerback for five games last year due to Talib’s opening day suspension and torn hip tendon down the stretch, agrees with Barber that Talib is a great teammate.

“Aqib is a guy I love to death in the locker room and on the field. He’s a good player, a team player,” Biggers said. “He helps us and helps anybody who needs his help. I know some people think differently about him, but to me, I love that guy to death on and off the field.

“I really don’t know too much about the situation, but Aqib has taught me almost everything I know out there. I tell everybody that he and Ronde are probably two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. Aqib can run with anybody and he can stick with bigger receivers and he can stick with smaller, quick receivers, too. He’s probably one of the most athletic DBs I’ve ever seen. Just watching him and listening to him, he has one of the smartest football I.Q.s I’ve ever been around. He’s just like Ronde.”

Barber, who is known as being one of the most cerebral and instinctive players in Tampa Bay’s history, agreed with Biggers’ assessment of Talib’s football knowledge.

“He does Shake Weight all day and doesn’t take a note in the meetings, but yet knows everything that’s going on,” Barber said. “[His football I.Q.] is unbelievable, and I have to work at it. He doesn’t work at it. He knows what he has to do on a football field. He just gets it. He understands it. Obviously, I’m doing a couple more things than he is doing, like knowing five positions, but if you ask Aqib what Cody Grimm is supposed to do in Puma, or whatever [the defense is], he knows it. It is unfortunate that a few or a myriad – or however you want to look at it – of incidents away from his profession really cloud people’s opinion of him.”

While Barber lauds Talib’s on-field talents and his qualities as a teammate, he isn’t ready to excuse the behavior of the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2008.

“You can tell him all you want … when I was with him in London I was trying to talk some sense into him,” said Barber when Talib got in trouble for missing curfew after the Patriots game in 2009. “He was screaming because it’s always him [saying] ‘What did I do wrong that everybody else didn’t do wrong?’ Just that deal. You can tell him all you want, but people are who they are. People change because they want to change, but they don’t change because people tell them to change. They don’t change because they have positive influence around them at the office. Aqib doesn’t go home with me. He doesn’t go home with Raheem [Morris]. He’s not going to dinner with Jimmy Lake every night. He’s not seeing that type of influence.

“You can’t [keep saying], ‘Aqib you can’t do that.’ [He’ll just say] ‘I know. I [messed] up. My bad.’ I don’t know how many times he’s said ‘My bad’ to me or Raheem. He understands. He understands the things he’s doing wrong and that he should have had better judgment … but that is how he is wired, man. However he grew up – and I don’t know how it was – but he has that instinct to survive and sometimes it can lead to him making bad decisions. You’re always responsible for everything you get yourself into. If you are around good people trouble usually doesn’t find you.”

The courts will decide whether or not Talib will face jail time, but even if he is cleared of his charges, the Bucs star cornerback could be faced with a lengthy suspension from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who suspended Talib for the season opener in 2010 after he allegedly punched a cab driver on the last night of training camp in 2009.

“We’re prepared [to play without Talib], but you don’t ever want to play a season or even a game without that guy,” said Barber. “He’s that good. He changes things. He takes [receivers] away and we’ve never had that in Tampa. He can literally take a guy away. He had his mental lapses last year and gave up some plays, but we’ve never had a guy like him. He’s a gamer. Not only is he big, physical and fast, he’s technically sound, which a lot of guys in this league just aren’t.

“A lot of players that people say are great just aren’t technically sound. Aqib is pretty technically sound and he’ll always be a good player because of that. When you get older or you are not feeling as good as you want, your technique takes over. Aqib understood that already in his third year. You don’t want to play without that guy, but in my second year they didn’t think I was going to be ready to play until Anthony Parker and Donnie Abraham got hurt. If we are without him, it’s Myron [Lewis] and E.J. [Biggers’] opportunity. All you get is an opportunity. That’s all you can ask for, really. They’re going to get it.”

Talib, who already has 15 interceptions in his first three years in the NFL, is coming off his best season after notching a 50 tackles, 11 passes defensed and a career-high six interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown at Arizona last year. Biggers, who had a career-best 53 tackles, 12 pass breakups and his first career interception, will battle Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010, for not only the Bucs’ nickel cornerback situation next year, but for the right to start at left cornerback as Talib’s replacement for any games he might be suspended for in 2011. Rookie Anthony Gaitor, the team’s seventh-round pick this year, is also expected to compete for playing time.

While Barber wants to line up opposite Talib because his presence will make the Bucs a more formidable defense, he has confidence in the team’s other cornerbacks and knows that they will step up as they did last year as Tampa Bay was 4-1 in games that Talib did not play in.

“Optimistically, I am hoping that this all goes away and he’s proven innocent,” Barber said. “I can’t speak for him because I wasn’t there. None of us were there. I don’t know what the hell happened. The courts will decide that and Roger Goodell will decide if he has a suspension. I remember talking to Mark [Dominik] last year and he said, ‘You can never have too many good cornerbacks.’ That’s been his philosophy and he drafted someone to replace me eventually – whenever that is – but Anthony Gaitor is a heck of a player. You always have to have a cog for whatever issue – legal or injury. The beat has to keep playing. The band can’t stop playing because the drummer gets hurt. Somebody has to step up and play.”

A report earlier this spring in the St. Petersburg Times claiming that Talib was “all but done” in Tampa Bay was sharply refuted by Morris, who indicated no decision had been made to release Talib. Barber agreed that any notion of cutting Talib was a bad idea.

“It’s doing a disservice to him,” Barber said. “I remember Torrie Cox when he had his couple of legal issues [with DUI arrests]. I went to bat for him and a bunch of other guys went to bat for him with Bruce [Allen]. When Torrie came back he said, ‘Man, I don’t have anything but football.’ A lot of guys don’t realize that until they are put in that situation and they are on the edge of having to go on with life without football. I’m not saying football is the end-all, be-all, but it’s what we’ve done forever – since high school and college. Then you get to the pros and it becomes your profession and it could end because of something you’ve done, it’s a reality check.

“I think you discredit the family-type atmosphere we have when you say, ‘Just get rid of the guy.’ We drafted the guy. We are somewhat responsible for him. Yeah, he’s had some issues, but he’s a teammate. He’s a teammate. I know it’s professional and it’s a business, but I don’t want to see anything bad happen to him now or 20-30 years from now.”
Last modified on Thursday, 02 June 2011 14:10

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  • avatar

    Aqib will have his day in court before any decisions are made. Aqib's sister's boyfriend is apparently a dangerous felon. We don't know all the facts in the case, so before we rush to judgement, lets see how it plays out. It's easy to judge others based on what we read in the paper, but a court of law separates fact from fiction. Beat writers who don't have the class of the late Tom McEwen, are looking for sensational headlines regardless of the truth.
  • avatar

    It really stands out to me when Ronde makes a comment on how they(him and Raheem) have told Talib that he needs to keep his nose clean, but yet he continues to get in trouble. He tells them that he knows he messed up and he understands the concept of getting in trouble, yet he continues to do it. I can speak from experience with having a family member that understands that they did wrong, but continue to always do it. It's disapointing for this young man to continue to do these things, but some people can't and will not ever change. Sorry Bucs fans, but he will be one of the guys that we read about every year even after he is no longer a Buc.
  • avatar

    I'm glad Ronde has taken the stand he has taken on Talib. I don't like the idea that Rick Stroud goes far past his authority as a sports writer and presumes to make statements that only a GM should be making. As Ronde pointed out, Talib is a human being as well. He is one of Tampa Bay's greatest assets on the football field and his team mates and coaches love him. He hasn't even had his day in court and Stroud is ready to throw him on the junk pile? All I know is the sister's boyfriend who Talib and his mother were dealing with wasn't a nice person himself and they felt his sister was in danger. Has anyone ever heard of extinuating circumstances. Talib didn't raise himself and he has scratched, clawed and scraped to get everything he has. Ability is one thing, but moxie is another. Talib has them both when it comes to his profession. If he can just learn to control his temper he'll be fine. When Talib realizes how much the fans in Tampa Bay think of him and want him to succeed, maybe this will help sooth his anger. I'm pulling for Aqib.
  • avatar

    I wish they'd just get the Talib and Jackson issues behind us. Ultimately the legal system, the NFL and team's internal policing will be what determines Talib's and Jackson's fate. When that finally happens and their punishment has been satisfied; we should all move on with them having a clean slate. If two of our best players are able to remain on the team and, as Spike Lee would say, "do the right thing", everyone benefits. No one condones what Talib and Jackson did but likewise no one approved of Vick's entertainment choice. But one has to admire him for taking what he deserved and restoring his career. It was the same for WR Chris Carter and WR Michael Irvin and their history of drug use. Now they are respected ex-players and members of society. It always cracks me up when supposed religious people want their own sins forgiven but for anyone else they want to cast them to Hell. macabee is absolutely correct in his point about pedophile priests not only escaping punishment but allowed to continue in their devious behavior. What's worse, molesting an alter boy or popping a cab driver, sneaking into a game and smacking and shooting at a wife beater?
  • avatar

    I could read words of wisdom from Ronde Barber all day long. Ronde speaks his mind--he's not just providing lip service. You can't tell Talib, he has to figure it out for himself. Who here is different? Just as I hope T-Jak get's it, I hope the same for Talib. What a difference a year can make in a person's life. Maybe almost losing football will snap T-Jak to attention. Talib hasn't had a significant wake up call. (One game in a private box & a team win isn't too harsh) This one is an eye opener. Loose football--loose your freedom. I really hope he keeps his freedom & then Goddell (worthless) and the Bucs' send him a life lesson. I want nothing more than for him to return from suspension & lay the smack'ith down on all their candied...buttocks. Then I can read PR posts next year where you all call for, "Those cheap Glaziers to open their checkbook and resign Talib." That's my hope as a Bucs’ fan. BTW: What do you get in trade for a guy suspended for 8 games (general consciences), who will need a new deal at the end of the season, when they're not expecting football till August? It just seems shrewder to wait and see--which as macabee correctly pointed out, is exactly what Ra & Dom said they'd do.
  • avatar

    C'mon fellas, enough with this mob mentality. Rah and Dom have given you the answer "we're going to wait until Talib is judged, then the Nfl will decide, then we will take our own actions". The players have spoken and they want Talib to return once this all decided. But apparently, thats not good enough for some of you. Talib did not kill a man, he did'nt rape a woman and he didn't kill any pets. Every sunday, millions cheer men at the top of this league that have done far worst than Talib. But that garners no empathy from you. Talib has used poor judgment and for that he will pay dearly. Yesterday, the SPT chronicled how much some churches have spent to settle sex abuse cases. Priest fail, teachers fail, and football players fail too. Nobody is suggesting you overlook this behavior, but put it into perspective with the human condition and be willing to move on when all is said and done.
  • avatar

    Remember Talib was not chosen under DOM. I can't believe DOM would have ever taken him in the first place. DOM checks out the character of the player first and has a way of knowing, as in the case of Williams, if they can overcome past bad behavior. The Bucs need to turn to DOM and let him evaluate Talib and follow his advice. The Bucs don't need troublemakers who will continue to get in trouble. They need to trade them and get whatever value they can for them. Talib is not irreplaceable! The Bucs were 4-1 without him last year. We want to build a great young team that will get better together. Bad apples who just keep being given 2d, 3d, and 4th chances set the wrong example for the rest of the Bucs. If it was up to me I would be trading Talib at the first opportunity.
  • avatar

    "He understands the things he’s doing wrong and that he should have had better judgment … but that is how he is wired, man". THIS IS WHY IT IS ONLY A QUESTION OF WHEN, NOT WHETHER, HE WILL PERMANENTLY BE BANNED BY THE NFL.
  • avatar

    If he gets cut he will be dearly missed on this defense. Trouble seems to find him pretty easily, and clearly his judgement is not good. I think he is one of the top three players on this team. There is no one on this team that can do what he can do. If he goes Cornerback will be the number 1 priority in next yrs draft, and Glazers may have to break with their normal shallow pockets when it comes to Free Agents
  • avatar

    Well I guess I may have change my mind about the trouble CB. He can be a great player if he gets his act together. He is still young, and he is a high profile player espically being in the NFL, Every person esoically the media trys to find problem players they job is get the story out sometime they don'e show both sides of a story. I'll give his pass for this time. Tampa Defense could be really good if he straightens out. I say keep Him for now. They Tampa Bay Coaching staff has spent too much money onthis player, so don't throw him out the door, Just welcome him back. I remember one game vs Atlanta when a wr from Falcons Tanlted Him, and he was hurt, you could tell in his expression that we would love to get back into the game to show that WR, that if he was guarding him, He couldn't do that. I hope the Tampa Defense will punish the Offensive around the league, and the fans come back home. I want football in 2011-2012. I am looking forwardto come homefor the Dec 2011 when the Bucs play the Cowboys at RJS, and Hope to be there! GO BUCS since 1976.Plus I was born in Tampa Sept 28,1945-a graduate of the 1964 HB Plant high School and a 23 Yrs Army Vet living outside Dallas, Texas now.
  • avatar

    met the man numerous times after games i believe he will be alright 24 with money come on now. you never did stupid stuff this man is a keeper part of the family, just like big ben in pitts., people grow up. do you diss your brother or other family member because they get in trouble no.i know it is a privelege to play in the nfl. but don't hate becauseyou are less talented them him.
  • avatar

    if your on the team and a reporter asks what are you going to say......cut him hes a hot head...of course not....but the truth is we should cut or trade him...hes such a talent be tough to see him on another team...I would keep him if we are not going to sign Aso or Joseph though.
  • avatar

    Barber is a good guy and knows what to say when the mike is on. His bust will deservingly be on display in Canton and Talib's name will be no more than a sad asterisk in the archives at One Buc.
  • avatar

    A lot of courts, and Goodell in Talib's future, when he gets to the Buc's I'll trust their judgment. Right now he's on his rookie contract for fairly cheep. He'll command big money on the open market,if not traded before then,that's when the Bucs will have to decide if they want to keep him.
  • avatar

    Martinii, What a wise and thought-provoking post! You've given me an idea - Beefeater, dry, shaken, not stirred. Here's to you my friend!
  • avatar

    No one is saying that Talib is not a good player; he is very good. The guy did not make a small mistake. It wasn't a DUI; it wasn't for hiting someone; it wasn't missing curfew; it wasn't being abusive to a female; it was arriving at a scene with a gun in hand ready to shoot someone. That's very serious. Maybe he won't understand any of it until he is away from football for a season and starts to understand that guns don't do anything but get you in trouble! I'm willing to accept that if Talib can behave and understand what he did was very wrong. I hope he can stay with the Bucs, but he will have to prove it to me by being suspended for the season and during that time get some real help. Talib needs help and nothing else has worked before and he just keeps getting into more trouble. It's time for Talib to pay for his mistakes, but also provide hope for him that he can play in the NFL in 2012.
  • avatar

    I agree with Barber, what better reference could you have. Sometimes you have to look at these situations for what they really are. Most of these players are in thier mid 20's (kids) and have aggressive personalities because they play an aggresive sport. At a young age they aquire more money and prestige than most of us do in a lifetime. In a few years they become icons and unlike the rest of us if they get into even minor altercations they are fined, suspended, or cut. Their carreers are put into jeaprody. They are expected to be Pillars of the community when many came from difficult backgrounds. "let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." If they are outright criminals prosecute them, but if they are kids placed under a microscope and thier teamates and coaches are their best support system, consider the broad picture. Sometimes I believe we working class hero's set ourselves up as judge and jury because we wish we had the skills of our sports hero's yet fail to realize all the demands that comes with job.
  • avatar

    Maybe someone needs to move his butt out of his present environ and then give him a "come to Jesus meeting", with some love and understanding.
  • avatar

    As for Barber vouching for his character, that's good to see. Barber knows Aqib better than any of us and we know Barber is a straight shooter. Barber said he didn't see the same type of nasty in McCoy last season that he saw in Sapp. I'm sure McCoy didn't like reading that and neither did we, but it was the truth. Who are we to speak on Talib's character? We can only speak on his actions. If Barber says he has good character, I believe him. It's just too hard for some people to believe that others can have good character but be a really bad decision maker. I've met several people like that and Barber is right in basically saying you can lead 'em to water but you can't make 'em drink. When I weight the pros and cons, I say it's worth keeping Aqib on the team.
  • avatar

    Great article; lots of insight. First of I found it interesting about his not taking notes during their learning sessions. I'm on the fence in terms of believing whether his mental mistakes would be reduced by him taking notes. The only physical mistakes I saw Aqib make last season was getting outjumped by S. Breaston for a catch and having an INT ripped from his hands in what ended up being a reception for D. Mason. All his other mistakes are mental when giving up long pass plays. The thing is certain people take in information differently. I know I feel like I miss things when I take notes because I find it hard to write and listen at the same time. My wife takes notes during church and I don't. Maybe Aqib's like that, but I would feel better if Aqib wasn't making more mental mistakes on the field than Barber.
  • avatar

    The Bucs won't cut him, they are good businessmen (read "cheap") and they will try to squeeze the turnip until it bleeds. They will either play him or trade him (post-suspension).
  • avatar

    The case of Aqib Talib is simple...when you have good people around you on a consistent basis you make better choices...Talib doesn't have that and probably never has but I'll tell you one thing...he needs to find it and find it quick...if he gets jail time then cutting him is the best option...if he doesn't [get jail time] we could trade him but we better not cut him and get no value
  • avatar

    Ronde may be close to him and think he's a good teammate. However i still dont agree that he has any good character. He absolutely is a thug in every sense of the word. To play in the NFL is a privealage not a right. He has shown over and over he doesn't respect that. Cut his *censored*..
  • avatar

    I can appreciate Barber and Biggers standing by their teammate. I suppose that if I were in their shoes, I would, too. But, how many “I know, I [messed] up, my bad” do you hear before you finally say “enough”? I hope Talib gets serious about confronting his issues, even if he is cleared of the charges. Or next time, the consequences might be more serious.
  • avatar

    While Ronde did speak glowingly of his football ability and football IQ It also sounded like Ronde thinks he will just continue to get into trouble
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