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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

NFL discipline likely if Talib is charged



We might not know for several days whether cornerback Aqib Talib will be formally charged in conjunction with a Garland, Texas domestic dispute/shooting last week, but this much you can be sure of: If Talib is found to be involved, there will be a heavy price to pay with the NFL.

The fact that the NFL and its players are currently embroiled in a lockout doesn't necessarily mean discipline won't be meted out against players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell made this clear in his recent comments, saying, "The personal conduct policy continues. It applies to everybody in the league. I don’t know how it would apply to the players under this circumstance (the lockout), but it’s something that I feel strongly about." It has since been made clear by league officials that discipline could be handed down after the work stoppage for personal conduct violations committed during the lockout.

This is not a legal opinion, because we're not qualified to give them, but it's unlikely Goodell will be dissuaded from disciplining Talib or others despite the lack of a CBA right now. One of the few things that could stand in his way would be an effort by the players union to protest such actions. That is far from a given because it would require the union to take the unpopular position of standing up for players who in some cases have been accused of or found guilty of crimes. The new collective bargaining agreement, when it's finally agreed to, will likely include provisions for appeals, but those often are difficult to win.

Furthermore, when players are involved in criminal cases, discipline is often handed down after the case is adjudicated (though that's not mandated in the policy, which gives Goodell very wide latitude). That was the case after Talib's cab driver battery arrest in 2009. He didn't serve his one-game suspension until the 2010 season opener, after the case was resolved with prosecutors. Technically, you don't even have to be convicted of a crime to draw Goodell's ire. Remember Pacman Jones? His biggest crime was staying in the headlines. That alone cost him a full season.

By the time any potential charges are brought before a judge and jury in this particular case, it's likely the NFL will be back in business, making Talib subject to its penalties. The bottom line here: If Talib's involvement in this matter deepens, there could be very, very serious consequences coming from the league office.

And that's a problem not only for Talib, but for the Bucs as well.

[Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011 7:10pm]


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