Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL suspends Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Aqib Talib for four games

TAMPA — With the first four seasons of his career marked by angry outbursts and two arrests, Aqib Talib was given a clean slate by Greg Schiano after the coach was hired in January.

But Saturday, Talib committed his first offense under Schiano, drawing a four-game suspension from the NFL for a violation of its policy against performance-enhancing substances.

The suspension is effective immediately, taking away one of the team's top defenders and undermining the Bucs' efforts to play man-to-man coverage, a strength of Talib's. He is eligible to return Nov. 5, one day after the Bucs' game at Oakland.

Talib, 26, said he "made a mistake" by taking an Adderall pill without a prescription. The drug is considered a stimulant and banned without a prescription, according to league policy.

"Around the beginning of training camp, I made a mistake by taking an Adderall pill without a prescription," Talib said in a statement released by the team. "This is especially regrettable because, for the past several months, with Coach Schiano's help, I've worked very hard to improve myself — professionally and personally — as a player and a man.

"I am truly sorry to my teammates, coaches and Buccaneers fans, and I'm disappointed in myself. I will work diligently every day of this suspension to stay in top football shape and be ready to help this team in the second half of the season. I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation I put myself in, which is why I will not exercise my appeal rights and will begin serving the suspension immediately."

The NFL does not comment on the specifics of violations and cannot confirm Talib's version of events. Adderall, a drug often used to treat attention-deficit disorder, is said to aid athletes in their workouts and can contribute to quicker reaction times. It also is known to be addictive.

Schiano said in a statement, "I have spoken with Aqib, and he knows that he made a poor decision that let our team down. Certainly, other players will have the opportunity to step up while he serves this suspension."

One such player is E.J. Biggers, who returned in the Bucs' last game from a two-month absence because of a broken left foot. Biggers would be most likely to start at left cornerback in place of Talib. Under that scenario, veteran Brandon McDonald would probably be the nickel corner, entering the game when five defensive backs are needed.

To replace Talib on the roster, the Bucs promoted defensive end Markus White from the practice squad.

The timing of Talib's violation complicates the matter. He is in the final year of his five-year rookie contract, meaning the Bucs will soon have to make a long-term decision about him.

Talib has kept a low profile since a charge of aggravated assault in Texas was dropped in June. During the offseason, Schiano emphasized Talib's ability to comply with requests.

"The thing that I can tell you is since I arrived here Jan. 26, he's been awesome," Schiano said in June. "He's been here every day. He's been extremely focused, doing everything that we asked."

That came on the heels of Talib's last off-field issue. He was accused by Garland, Texas, police of shooting at his sister's live-in boyfriend during a domestic dispute in 2011. Talib also was suspended for a game in 2010 after agreeing to a deal with prosecutors after his arrest for battery, related to his punching of a cabdriver in St. Petersburg.

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