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Time for the Team to Show Its Colors

Here's a little story: a woman has an abusive 'boyfriend' who has twice been arrested for domestic violence towards him. When a third altercation happens the woman is scared, calls her mother and her physically very capable brother. This being the bad part of town, the two family members both arrive with guns. The brother tries to stop the boyfriend from getting to his sister, using the butt of his pistol when the boyfriend won't be deterred. The boyfriend fights back and knocks the brother's gun away, and the mother snaps, firing 3 shots in the air. Talib stops his mother from shooting the boyfriend, and fires in the air himself . The cops have been called, though, and are charging the mother and brother with felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Obviously, the brother in this case is Aqib Talib. The point of that story isn't to prove Aqib Talib's innocence or to prove that he's such a good guy, I doubt he's either. The point is to show that the same chain of events can lead to different interpretations. If we read that paragraph it still doesn't look good for Talib, but defending his sister and firing a couple shots to scare someone off is a far cry from getting into an argument and shooting at someone who is fleeing. I want to make it clear I'm not condoning his actions, though, far from it. He shouldn't have brought a gun to the confrontation, and he certainly shouldn't have fired any shots - in the air or otherwise. If he has fired shots at the boyfriend, he should most certainly be convicted and punished to the full extent of the law. 

Talib doesn't deserve to get cut for defending his sister, though. Not unless it is found that he actually shot at the fleeing boyfriend, which would certainly be far beyond the pale. I'm sure Roger Goodell will want to suspend Talib for a couple of games because of this, and that's certainly justified - bringing a gun to a confrontation like that is stupid enough, let alone firing it. And whether Talib is found guilty or not, I do want to see him make amends for this in some way. He also needs to get professional help and fix his issues. In any case, the Bucs couldn't give up on him now even if they wanted to: they can't cut him as long as the offseason hasn't started officially. So far the Bucs have only released one short statement, saying they are "deeply troubled" by the situation, but will refrain from further comment because of the labor situation. 

Regardless of what I think, this will be an arena for the Bucs to show their principles once they return. Do they want to build a team of character, a team the fans can be proud of on and off the field? Then the Bucs must cut or trade Talib, once they're allowed to do so. Do they put a higher priority on winning games? Then they must keep Talib until the legal process has concluded. This is a tough decision for any organization in the NFL, giving up on someone as talented as Talib hurts a franchise, and every franchise wants to win.

A team can say they value character above all else all they want, but if they mean it they show it in these cases. Their actions will speak louder than their words in this regard. I can't blame them for choosing either option at this point. But whatever they do, they shouldn't let their actions be led by public pressure, they should do what they feel is right regardless of public opinion.