It's Time for Raheem Morris To Muzzle Aqib Talib

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IMay 21, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14: Defensive backs coach Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers directs play against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Just when you thought OTAs might get a bit boring, in stepped Tampa Bay Buccaneers second-year defensive back Aquib Talib.

Talib, demonstrating his habit of bad judgement on Wednesday, got a little irritated with monstrous (6'5", 315-pound) tackle Donald Penn. Realizing that Penn outweighs him by more than 100 pounds, Talib chose to turn his helmet into a weapon. He took a swing at Penn but caught potential peacemaker Torrie Cox in the face.

The helmet punch caused a facial laceration to Cox.

The incident was confirmed by both Tampa area newspapers and by the Buccaneers and the players involved. The players downplayed the incident, as often happens.

Team officials indicated that GM Mark Dominik would review the incident.

Head coach Raheem Morris needs to do more than that.

It is now time for Morris to show his leadership. Time for him to reel in and muzzle the player he dubbed "wild child" last season.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

You see, Talib is one of Raheem's "guys." Before he was anointed head coach, Morris' responsibility was the defensive secondary. He is more than familiar with Talib.

Morris has to know that Talib is far from a model citizen. He came to the Bucs in the first round of the 2008 draft from Kansas with a busload of baggage, including a history of attraction to cannabis.

As if that wasn't enough, Talib decided to make everyone take notice of him last year at the NFL rookie symposium where he got into a fight with fellow-rookie Corey Boyd.

Typical reaction around Tampa:  "You gotta be kiddin?"

No kidding on that one.

If that wasn't enough, it is a known fact that former head coach Jon Gruden fined Talib on numerous occasions for his inability to abide by team rules.

If Morris is unsure how to handle his "wild child," he should simply ask: WWTDD?

What Would Tony Dungy Do?

Dungy spoke last month in Tampa to a large assembly of high school coaches at the University of South Florida coaches clinic.

Dungy had his formula for handling such incidents.

"Discipline," said Dungy as he listed the factors he believes build winning teams. "The talent in the NFL is so close that the game is won by teams with discipline. The emphasis has to be on enforcing the rules and that goes for fighting.  You want to be competitive, not combative. There were three fights during practices during my 13 years.

Dungy continued: "Three things happen when you fight in the National Football League. First, you get thrown out of the game. Second, your teammates get punished and third, you get fined.

"Even if it happened in practice," Dungy continued,"that's how I handled it. I'd throw the player out of practice, then his teammates would be punished and then he'd get fined."

Simple formula, effective leadership.

Now Morris needs to be simple and effective.

He simply cannot excuse this as his "wild child" being wild.

His "wild child" was acting very childish and Morris knows that the National Football League is not a place for childish outbursts.

It all comes back to discipline. Per Dungy, discipline wins games and conversely, lack of it loses games.

Whatever the "review" outcome may be, Morris needs to act swiftly and set Talib on a better course and push him to act like a professional.

"We need to help our players develop as men," Dungy said. "In the NFL, we haven't done a good job of that."