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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Morris already at a crucial career point

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- I'm very curious to hear what Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris will say after Thursday afternoon's practice about the arrest of cornerback Aqib Talib.

By itself, the arrest might not seem like such a big deal. Talib was charged with two misdemeanors early Thursday morning. But the implications go way beyond that and put Morris firmly in a critical spot early in his career.

Talib's had trouble before. Morris has referred to him as a "wild child'' and Talib's most recent problem before this one came during offseason workouts when he was fighting with offensive tackle Donald Penn, swung his helmet and wound up hitting defensive back Torrie Cox.

Talib's latest trouble comes just days after it was revealed that safety Tanard Jackson will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Think about these two situations a bit and tell me what Talib and Jackson have in common. Besides being Tampa Bay's two best defensive backs, they're also Morris' guys. He was the defensive backs coach before his sudden ascension to becoming the league's youngest head coach.

A lot has been made of how Morris is a players' coach and there are plenty of good things you can say about that. But being a players' coach isn't always a good thing and that reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend the other night.

My friend has nothing to do with the Bucs, the NFL or the media. But he is a guy with some common sense and, even before the Jackson and Talib situations happened, my friend was predicting big problems for Morris.

My friend was basing it all on his own experience. He once ran a business and hired a bunch of his buddies and that's where the problems started. My friend worked hard, gave everything he had to the business and made the critical mistake of assuming his employees would do the same thing because they were his friends. That didn't happen. The buddies slacked and the business failed. If my friend had the chance to do it all over again, he said he would have hired qualified, committed people he didn't previously know and he would have treated them as employees, not friends.

It might be time for Morris to change the dynamics with his players because it's still early in his regime. So far, his buddies aren't helping him out. Might be a good time to stop having buddies and start having employees.