Has Aqib Talib escaped the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell?
Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib learned on Monday that he has dodged a bullet -- pun intended -- when prosecutors dismissed a charge of assault with a deadly weapon pending against him in Dallas County, Texas.
It was a big day for Talib and, certainly, for the Bucs, who are counting heavily on Talib in their effort to improve the play in their secondary.
Now that the case has been resolved from a legal standpoint, there is one more possible hurdle for Talib. Will he still face the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell? Despite what you might think, Goodell's wide latitude allows him to discipline Talib for his arrest even though the case was ultimately not prosecuted.
Whether you agree with this or not, it's permissible based on the collective bargaining agreement. What's more, there's precedent. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games after he was accused of -- but not charged with -- sexual assault. Authorities made it known when they completed their investigation that they believed something happened but couldn't produce enough evidence to convict.
Compounding Talib's problem is that he is not a first-time offender when it comes to landing on Goodell's radar. He is among the players who have previously been summoned to Goodell's office for a tongue lashing, and that was before Talib found himself involved in last year's shooting incident in Texas.
The difference between Roethlisberger's situation and Talib's is that the former's alleged incident occurred before the NFL lockout. Talib's case has been adjudicated at a time when the players' union has been much more likely to push back on disciplinary issues (see the ongoing battle over the Bounty-gate discipline). That doesn't mean the union will go to bat for Talib, it just suggests Goodell could be less inclined to act given the current environment.
The bottom line: Talib is not off the hook, despite what authorities in Texas have determined.
UPDATE, 1:57 p.m.: Two other points to make that developed since this morning. One, an NFL spokesman declined to close the door on disciplining Talib. He said the league office will, in fact, review the case. He did not suggest what the outcome might be.
Second, Talib's attorney tells us Goodell's office asked for a copy of the dismissal order issues by Dallas County authorities. Whether that's a good or bad thing is probably debatable.