Derrick Brooks: Aqib Talib is a changed man

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Aqib Talib #25 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is restrained by team mates following a decision during the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Derrick Brooks appeared on the Ron and Ian Show at 620 WDAE to talk about his Tampa Bay Storm and Aqib Talib, who just put his legal trouble behind him. I'll give you the key quote and then analyse it after the jump:

This is a new regime for him, so his slate is kind of wiped clean in a way, for how coach Schiano sees it. You see how he's approached it: "Hey, since I've been here, the guy's been here every day, he's shown up on time, he's done all I've asked him to do for the things I can control as a head coach." That's what he's going to judge him off of. Now he obviously knows about the incident, these things [inaudible] and the justice system will take care of that. But once they make a decision, they will apply to what it means to their football team. Now that these things have been dropped, they're gonna move forward. However, Aqib still has to be assessed by the commissioner, and whatever the commissioner puts forward in terms of if there is a punishment or whatever, the team will make an adjustment off of that.

But, personally, because I've seen this young man transition here the last eight months, I'm happy for him. I hope justice was served, and I'll just take it at that. But personally, I've been staying in communication with him and I've seen that he's become a changed man at this point. And I hope, as I told him yesterday: "I hope that this continues to put you on the same road you're on of redemption. Be the guy that you've been transitioning to be the last eight months, make sure that that's guy moving forward." I honestly believe that he's a changed man at this point.

Derrick Brooks played with Aqib Talib for one season, in 2008, but has obviously kept in contact with the young cornerback. If the Bucs' all-time linebacker says Talib is a changed man, some weight has to be given to that observation: Derrick Brooks was the locker-room leader for many, many years and has little incentive to lie about it. That said, Brooks has always been a bit of a company man to the press and wasn't exactly known for his controversial remarks, so we may not expect something negative from the man.

If these reports are true and Aqib Talib has indeed changed his way, then the Buccaneers should start considering him as part of their long-term plan. But it may be too early to declare Talib 'changed': we heard reports of his newfound professionalism and dedication to his craft during the 2010 offseason as well. And then, he got into trouble in 2011. Admittedly, that trouble has now been dismissed by the Dallas county prosecutor, but it's still part of a troublesome pattern.

I hope Aqib Tailb has indeed changed. The man is a terrific cornerback and can be a valuable part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But history tells us to be cautious.

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