NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 04: Wide receiver Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints runs past cornerback Eric Wright #21 of the Detroit Lions after a catch for a 67 yard touchdown at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
According to Pro Football Talk, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to punish Eric Wright to prove that things have changed. As if that isn't clear enough already from the culture change, the Kellen Winslow trade and the release of Tanard Jackson. No, what will really show the world that the Bucs are different is punishing Eric Wright, the man who was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI on Monday. Yes, suspicion. There's no conviction, no and it's not entirely clear what has happened yet. So, the Bucs have issued a statement saying that they are investigating the facts. For Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, this isn't good enough. There must be action, swift and harsh, without any effort whatsoever to find out what actually happened.
There are a few obvious problems with this reasoning, aside from the question of guilt. For one, there's the simple fact that the team cannot directly and publicly punish Eric Wright. Per the CBA, that has to be left to the league office. In fact, Florio even points this out - and then promptly ignores it. And the league simply isn't in the habit of punishing first-time DUI arrests, so we can't really expect to see any discipline there.
Here's another problem: Eric Wright will surely be punished one way or the other behind closed doors. That's no different from what the Bucs did under Raheem Morris and Jon Gruden, so this wouldn't exactly show that things have changed. But punishing Eric Wright publicly would only serve one purpose: to placate a fanbase that wants to see blood - but such a bow to public pressure can also alienate the team itself, harming the very culture the team has tried to establish. After all, the team is supposed to be about family, and you protect your family from outside harm. Wright is a part of the team, and Schiano isn't served by flogging him in public. Especially not when Wright quite simply is going to be on the roster the next two years: they need him, because depth at cornerback is largely non-existent. More importantly, his salary is guaranteed the next two seasons, and cutting him would simply serve to harm the team, not improve it.
So, do the Bucs need to punish him now, before the facts are out, and do so publicly? No. What's the point?