With the very real possibility that cornerback Aqib Talib might have played his final game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, possibly, anywhere in the National Football League, it’s time for a little revisionist history.
Think back to the first round of the 2008 draft. The Buccaneers, then run by coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen, were sitting at No. 20 (gee, that's a little scary since they're sitting at No. 20 again this year).
When the Arizona Cardinals took cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who grew up in nearby Bradenton, Fla., off the board at No. 16, a lot of people thought the Buccaneers would turn their focus to another local product. The University of South Florida, a relatively young program, had perhaps its first high-profile draft prospect.
That was cornerback Mike Jenkins and he was the favorite among a lot of fans. But Gruden and Allen were looking in another direction. Never known for putting much stock into character during their tenure, they went out and picked Talib, who already had created some background questions while in college at Kansas.
After making the pick, Gruden and Allen came out to the media room and the questions about Talib’s background came up. They said they had done their homework and were comfortable with the pick.
A couple of months later, Talib reportedly got into a scrape with a teammate at the rookie symposium. The trail continued with Talib getting into a fight with a teammate in practice and smacking another teammate in the face with his helmet. There also was that incident in which Talib had an altercation with a cab driver that ended up with him being suspended for the first game of last season.
Talib started only two games in his rookie season, and Gruden and Allen were fired after that. Predecessors Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik dealt with Talib’s flaws and got some bright moments when he was on the field. He produced five interceptions in 2009 and six in 2010. But, now, he’s probably gone.
What about Jenkins? Well, the only real knock on him was he was a little short at 5-foot-10, but the Dallas Cowboys scooped him up at pick No. 25. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2009.
He struggled in 2010, but coach Jason Garrett said he expects Jenkins to bounce back. Did Gruden and Allen make a mistake taking Talib over Jenkins?
Well, let’s put it this way, Jenkins has a much better shot of helping a team in 2011 than Talib.