Just when things are looking up for the Bucs, something happens that brings everybody back down to Earth. In back-to-back weeks Tampa Bay’s indiscretions have come at the expense of the secondary.
On October 28th, Fox NFL Insider Jay Glazer reported via his twitter account that Bucs CB Eric Wright was facing a four-game suspension for testing positive for the banned substance Adderall. At the time, then-Buccaneer corner back Aqib Talib halfway through his own four-game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance the former first round pick said was Adderall. Last week as the league’s trade deadline was approaching Tampa Bay dealt Talib, his baggage, and a seventh round draft pick to the New England in exchange for a unconditional fourth round selection in the upcoming draft.
It has been over a week and Wright has been practicing – aside from a few days when he was limited due to a minor Achilles injury – and played against the Raiders in Oakland last Sunday.
At this time, no other news or details regarding Wright or league discipline has been revealed.
With Talib now in New England and Wright safe (at the moment) from disciplinary action, all was looking good for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay has the No. 1 run defense in the NFL and is seventh in scoring offense. QB Josh Freeman has thrown 11 touchdowns to only one interception in the past four games.
For the first time in franchise history, the Buccaneers went into Oakland and came out with a victory. In the course of the 42-32 win against the Raiders, rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns, both Tampa Bay records. Martin also owns an NFL record as three of Martin’s touchdown runs were over 45 yards (45, 67, 70).
Then the news broke Tuesday evening that another Bucs player was facing a possible suspension.
Ahmad Black, who is coming off his best game against Oakland where the second-year free safety recorded five tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, one pass defensed and an onside kick recovery, was cited on October 30th for possession of cannabis, less than 20 grams (a misdemeanor), according to court records.
Several published reports citing the police report state Black was pulled over after an officer observed the former Florida Gator’s 2010 Land Rover “weaving side-to-side” on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. According to the report, Black said he was having a mechanical issue with the vehicle, but the officer stated he could smell a strong odor of marijuana from the SUV.
Police say Black admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the evening and also told the officer of a small amount of marijuana in the truck. The Lakeland native and a female passenger were removed from the vehicle and a marijuana cigarette was found in the driver door by police during a search.
Black was not arrested and an arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 3. Black could face penalties under the NFL's personal conduct policy with discipline ranging from a fine to a suspension.
Head coach Greg Schiano spoke briefly about the incident during his post-practice press conference and told the media he had addressed both Black and the team.
“First off, I always deal with the individual involved,” Schiano said. “I have had candid conversations with Ahmad (Black). Then I discussed it with the whole team. I get it. I am frustrated, but at the same you need to handle every situation independently.
“I talked with our team about it. I really believe they understand. Yet we had another mistake. We have to get it remedied. I have taken internal action that will stay internal. Now the league still has to decide what they are going to do and the courts have to decide. That’s where we are.”
Schiano went on to say that the way the organization is handling the situation internally is what’s best in this case.
“When you are inside the situation and you have all the facts, there are always a lot of things you have to take into account when you make a decision,” Schiano said. “I know that from the outside you look sometimes and you say ‘well why don’t you’? Well it’s not that easy always. Every situation has different circumstances to it. What I try to do is hear everything and get as much accurate information as I can and then collaborate with Mark (Dominik) and with people on the staff, then we make a decision collectively what we think is best.
"Having done this for a number of years, experience tells me that our internal action is appropriate right now. Now we have to wait and see what happens outside of the organization. Rest assured that it has been addressed.”
After the daily briefing, the locker room was opened and local media understandably were waiting to speak to Black. In most situations of this nature the player will refuse to talk to reporters, which is what most expected Wednesday, but Black decided to take questions.
“It’s pending right now,” Black said. “The full story will come out later on. I’m just sorry to disappoint my teammates and be a distraction right now. But everything else will take care of itself."
Black was asked if Schiano spoke with the team and if he had apologized to his head coach.
“He did address the team and told us the dos and don’ts,” Black said. “Me and Coach had a private discussion between the two of us, it’s going to stay between me and him.”
Although the answers weren’t given in much detail, his words were heartfelt and humble, and Black deserves credit for his willingness to address his transgressions.