Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris doesn't expect that Aqib Talib's legal woes won't cost him part of this season.
Although Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib's aggravated assault charge remains unresolved in the court systems and he is scheduled to face a grand jury next spring, the Buccaneers' top defensive back could still face discipline from the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell. As part of the ratified collective bargaining agreement, Goodell appears to have retained the right to discipline players for their conduct during the NFL’s 132-day lockout.
But at his Friday afternoon press conference Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris indicated he doesn’t expect anything to happen until the case is resolved. Talib’s trial is scheduled for March of 2012.
“I know you have to go through a whole bunch of legal stuff and all that jazz,” Morris said. “I don’t think anything will happen as far as the league. I don’t have any idea what is going on with the front office. I don’t mean our front office, the league office. They don’t usually pass judgment until something happens legally first. They do a great job up there handling those situations. I’m sure they will handle this situation no differently.”
While Morris remains hopeful he will have his star cornerback for the entire 2011 season, there is precedent for in-season suspensions prior to any convictions through the legal system. In 2007, Goodell suspended cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones even while his legal woes were still unresolved. The NFL Players Association appealed the suspension based on the fact the charges were still pending and the union wrote a letter to Goodell stating the suspension "violates clearly established principles of employment and labor law. And that no player has ever been disciplined by the commissioner for conduct relating to criminal charges while they are pending."
In 2009, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games [reduced to four] for violating the league’s personal conduct policy over sexual assault allegations even though criminal charges were never brought against the quarterback.
Morris may be also basing his assessment on the fact Talib’s last suspension came only after lawyers for the former first-round pick and prosecutors reached a deal. Goodell handed down a one-game suspension, which cost Talib the season opener in 2010 even though he was arrested and charged with assaulting a cab driver on the final night of training camp in 2009.– Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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