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July 2, 2012 @ 11:31 am
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PR REACTS: A New Aqib Talib?

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib has been no stranger to trouble over the course of his four-year NFL career. But with his recent legal woes in Texas behind him and the support of new coach Greg Schiano, is Talib truly a changed person? Get Mark Cook's impressions and opinions in this PR Reacts column.
There is an old adage that goes, “Can a leopard change his spots?” In the case of beleaguered Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib, that question has been asked almost since his arrival in Tampa Bay via the 2008 draft, amid concerns about reports Talib failed a drug test while at Kansas allegedly for marijuana.

Since that time there have been a long laundry list of transgressions. From fights with teammates, punching cab drivers, cursing out NFL referees and of course, the most recent – a felony aggravated assault charge in Texas in which Talib was said to have fired a gun at his sister’s ex-boyfriend. Fortunately for the Bucs – and Talib – those last charges were recently dropped by the district attorney’s office, and the former Jayhawk can now get on to doing what he does best – playing cornerback in the NFL.

When new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano was hired by in January, many felt Talib’s days were numbered, including many local and national news outlets. Lets face it – Schiano is a no-nonsense guy who appears to have little patience for those who aren’t “team first” (see Tanard Jackson, Kellen Winslow). Going back all the way to the NFL Combine in February, Schiano has clearly stated all players – regardless of their past – will have a clean slate. Still many felt it was just a matter of time before Talib became a victim of Schiano’s “house cleaning.”

Now, five months later, Talib – with his legal woes behind him – appears to have either turned a new leaf, matured, saw the writing on the wall, or a combination of all of these, but whatever it is, Tampa Bay’s troubled cornerback has said and done all the right things.

Some of the right things Talib has done include 100 percent participation in the Buccaneers voluntary and mandatory camps and workouts, including putting in time on his own inside the building, staying away from controversy, and recently tagging along with Schiano to visit Pepin Academies in Tampa to visit students who suffer from learning disabilities.

“Coach told me that he was going to come by [Pepin] and get a tour and learn more about the school and I was in town just working out,” said Talib. “So he asked if I wanted to come along. I definitely wanted to come along to see a different learning environment, something I had never seen before, something I didn’t know existed, really.”

According to the Buccaneers Community Relations Department, for over an hour, Schiano and Talib met with school administrators and visited with students attending the summer program, providing a special visit for both students and teachers who spend their days overcoming a variety of educational challenges.

Tom Pepin, whose father, Art, founded the Academies talked about how much it meant to the students who were visited by Schiano and Talib.

“One thing about our students is they are very appreciative, but they don’t get very much,” Pepin said “It’s like when you’re on a meal of McDonald’s and then all of a sudden you’re offered a steak. Today, this is a huge piece of sirloin for these kids, to see them, talk to them. This interaction’s been amazing.”

The impact was also clearly felt by Talib.

“It just speaks [to] the people who are running this school,” added Talib. “They’re doing an excellent job, bettering these kids’ lives. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to do whatever we can do to do our part and help, because this is a really good school. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It’s getting me really excited in just knowing that I’m blessed to be a Buccaneer and have the opportunity to do what I can do to help. Getting to see the kids, they all have learning disabilities; I have people in my family with learning disabilities and they don’t have a chance to go to a school like this. Like I said before, I’ve never seen [a school] like this before. So just to get to come around and have the chance to help to do whatever we can do, it’s really exciting.”

PR REACTS- Cook's Take: So what does the future for Aqib Talib hold? Can he truly change the perception that he has been building over the last four years? Only time will tell, but it does appear the impact Schiano has had is already making a difference.

Talib certainly has some personal issues, whether it be anger management, a tough childhood or just some inner demons. Who really knows? I was a victim of Talib’s tirades a couple of times last season, the worst being after the win at home against New Orleans when responding to my question Talib told me, “I don’t know what game you were watching. You need to go back and look at the (expletive) film.” But even then, it wasn’t a shouting match or a particularly hate filled answer. It was just Talib being Talib.

Then there were times during open locker room last year when the Bucs’ veteran cornerback could be engaging, funny and then for whatever reason his mood would immediately switch to confrontational. At times Talib was a version of Warren Sapp. But unlike Sapp, who genuinely didn’t care what anyone thought of him, Talib gives off that ever so subtle vibe of actually wanting to be liked – a complete dichotomy of personalities, too complex for myself or the other media members to fully understand.

As stated earlier the impact that Schiano has had on the Buccaneers players – Talib in particular – is already being felt. When researching Schiano shortly after he was hired, talking to former players and media who covered the Rutgers football team, I came to no conclusion on if he would be a successful winning football coach. But the one thing that resonated – and continues even more so now – is that Schiano truly cares about his football players and accepts them as part of his own extended family. Maybe Talib has been looking for that so-called father figure. Maybe like an undisciplined child Talib's outbursts have been a subconscious cry for structure. 

There is certainly a chance that Schiano’s legacy won’t include Lombardi trophies or NFC titles, but for players like Aqib Talib, perhaps Schiano’s lasting lessons will occur off the football field and ultimately be more impactful in the long-term, even more than wins, losses, titles and rings.

What are your thoughts PewterReport readers?


Last modified on Wednesday, 04 July 2012 12:33

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    Wow, what rich feedback from everyone. First, let me make a statement of the obvious, people (generalized) can change. It happens all of the time and we celebrate it when we see it because most of us have something that we would rather improve or get rid of altogether. I find Talib's interview here to be a bit revealing of someone trying very hard to say and do the right things but having it feel somewhat foreign to them. His answers are sweet, but a little unsteady. I think this is good. That, to me, is a sign of real striving. He is out of his comfort zone and that will pay off over time if he can keep it up and stay out of trouble. I'm rooting for this guy as a person and, of course, as a Buc.
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    Buc Fans PLEASE stop saying we "paid to much" for any FA we got this year. We finally spent a lot of money for FA's ,got some great players and if we have to give them top dollar to come here after finishing the season with 10 consecutive losses who gives a sh%t.Stop bitching,they finally spent big bucks and every team who really wants some (wither you think there worth it or not) big name FA or just to fill an important hole has to pay the player more than someone else is offering to get them,especially if your not a Playoff team already.You cant have everything sometimes,just be glad we got the FA's we got. GO BUCS!!!
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    I'm really encouraged that Talib is getting the help he needs; no, allowing himself to get the help he needs. He has a lot of work to do, but with it comes a real change for the good. Go Bucs!
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    Maybe Talib can mentor Wright......
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    One of the best and most humanizing posts of the offseason. Shiano's caring and concern for his players is very impressive.
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    Very solid examples in Carter and Irving Scubog. The NFL obviously sees Irving as such, and had him speak at the rookie symposium. The Network released some of his speech, and it has as much to do with Talib right now as anything I can think of. It spoke of your football skill allowing you into places your mentality was not yet prepared to go. If you liked Irving's HOF acceptance speech, this one contains some of the same honesty and strength. Some of these young men are socialized in very difficult environments before being placated in a system that uses them completely to generate millions in revenue--aka: college football. One hopes that coaches and professors are mentors along the way, but then a story like the Penn State fiasco comes along and you remember just how hard life can be. Dungy made me proud to be a Bucs' fan, and I hope Schiano will do that too. I want Talib's legacy to be one of growth and success. I do not know the man, nor do I even have the experience of interviewing him. But I certainly hope for him to achieve the greatness that is still within his grasp, both on and off the field.
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    Scubog started off the way I planned to by saying that I've never met Talib and I agree with most of what he said. Where we differ is feeling qualified to judge him based on his actions. Part of my day job involves analysis of things I have no direct access to and I can only rely on the data and information to which they create to judge them. There has been so much confirmed information from reliable sources out there (PR included) that I do feel I have enough information to make an assessment about him. In short, I like having Aqib on the team. Heck, my wife is wearing his jersey per my recommendation of great players who will be on the team a long time. My assessment is based on the fact that not only is Talib one of the top 5 CB's in the league, everybody on the team likes him. Not just based on what he can do on the field, but as a person. That's always been more important to me than what the fans and the media think of him.
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    I'm not gona lie when shiano was hired and I started.reading and hearing about him I thought talib would have been cut. When we git ride if Jackson I.thought that was the green light for relasing talib especially since we had a good chance if getting claibourn and the fact we signed write, who we spent way to much on by the way. So the fact that we still have him means that shiano and dominic must think he is a changed man. I have nothing writ for giving ppl a second chance but if Jackson was released then talib bust be on the shortest leash imaginable
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    The NFL is his life. It is how he defines himself. It is how he feeds his family. And he came within a felony conviction of losing it all! The only greater teacher IS losing it all.
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    Saw quite a bit of Talib last year at TC. One thing is that he appears to be quite amiable. A lot of us were jeering him to practice hard and he turned smiled and said basically that he got it and he would. Hard to say that he did or didn't given the state of affairs last year but he was responsive. I always believe that redemption is possible until one's dying breath. The odds for and against are heavy so I surely don't know if Talib has turned a corner. But as they say in New York, in order to be successful speak Yiddish and dress British. Sometimes just going through the motions of a better "way" can start the long voyage to success both professionally and personally. I hope so for everyone including myself and Talib among the few...
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    I've never met Aqib Talib so I don't feel qualified to judge him based purely on his well-publicized actions. I know this much; there are far worse people in this world than our young cornerback. As to whether or not he can change for the better; only time will tell. His own maturity will help in allowing him to make better decisions as it does with most of us. I'm reminded of two wide receivers whose youth and background led them to a lifestyle of womanizing, parties, drug abuse and general irresponsibility. One was even cut from his original team when they could no longer tolerate his total disregard for authority. Eventually both came to realize the depths to which their poor decisions and associates were dragging them. Change they did. One is already in the Hall of Fame who gave one of the best speeches I've ever heard. The other is a Hall of Fame candidate who is also highly respected for the way he turned around his life. Michael Irvin and Chris Carter. Let those two and # 55 be your example Aqib.
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    According to a Derrick Brooks interview last month, Talib has been working on some sort of personal transformation for the last eight months or so. Seems like Schiano's presence and influence can only help Talib in that process. Hope it leads to a more disciplined player on the field as well.
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    Talib is a great talent and has been the best CB on the team for years now...a long laundry list that spanned many years...of things that anybody could be guilty of mouthing off, throwing a punch losing your temper because someone is beating your sister if front of you...sorry but i love the way this guys plays and how he rallies his team mates. And if he was as bad as most say...Schiano would not be so high on him...
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    Whatever his motivation (the arrest, not being charged, change of coach), am glad to see that he is smart enough to see the writing on the wall, and realize that what he's done in the past isn't going to work. Truth will come in time.
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    Did a quick read of your article and of reader's responses..... Did anyone mention the fact that Talib is on his last year of his contract and that he being on his best behavior is in his best interest for a lucrative new contract? If so, apologies.
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    Morgan, that could be the case. When I wrote maybe he sees the writing on the wall, that s what I was referring to.
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    If I was a betting man, I would place my wagger on exactly what 1sparky said; however, it doesn't have to be that way and Talib can make the decision to change. Many high profile people with problems have been successful in changing bad behaviour, others not so much. I hope/wish that Talib will make the good choice. I am rooting for him.
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    Good read. Thanks.
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    Talib knows his next tantrum as a Buccaneer will be his last. He will behave until some situation sets him off. For now he's safe, but in time he will lose control and do something he will regret. Schiano will be forced to cut or trade him. Hopefully he lasts long enough for the Bucs to replace him. People like him never change.
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    Sparky, Never is a very strong word. Doubt that literally its true. Am not fond of absolutes.
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