Talib Closer to pretrial intervention
TAMPA — Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib appears to be heading into a pretrial intervention program to conclude his misdemeanor battery case, though it may not be finalized before today's scheduled status check.
Talib's attorneys have filed the paperwork, and assistant State Attorney Richard Ripplinger said as long as the "I's are dotted and the T's are crossed," it should go through. The State Attorney's Office has other cases pending that could delay the official ruling for Talib.
Talib was arrested Aug. 19 after the Florida Highway Patrol said he punched a cab driver in the neck and ear while riding from a St. Petersburg club to a Tampa hotel. Since then, Talib has entered a written plea of not guilty, and the driver, David Duggan, has said he reached a monetary settlement with Talib to avoid a potential civil lawsuit.
A pretrial intervention program is common for some cases involving first-time offenders, and, in this situation, would likely require Talib, 24, to do community service and go through anger management. Upon successful completion of the 12-month program, charges would be dismissed. Talib's attorney, Ron Hanes, could not be reached for comment.
Joe Smith, Times staff writer
Five Bucs, big names on free agent list
Bucs receiver Antonio Bryant, defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, linebacker Angelo Crowell, and safeties Will Allen and Jermaine Phillips are among the 235 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. Also free to sign with another club starting March 5: Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, Bills receiver Terrell Owens and Saints safety Darren Sharper.
Bills: Starting right tackle Brad Butler, 26, announced his retirement after four seasons. Butler, who spent the 2008 offseason interning with late congressman Jack Kemp, said he wanted to devote his attention to his "passion for education, country and community."
Peer continues roll
One year after Israeli Shahar Peer was denied a chance to play in the United Arab Emirates, she is unstoppable at the Dubai Championships. She beat a seeded player for the third time in four matches and reached the semifinals with a 7-5, 3-0 win over No. 8 seed Li Na, who retired with back spasms. Last year, event organizers were fined $300,000 by the tour for not allowing Peer to play. The unseeded Peer, who has been surrounded by security, faces Venus Williams, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
COLLEGE BASEBALL: USF and Florida begin their seasons today with the opener of a three-game series in Gainesville (6:30 p.m., 1010-AM).
College football: FSU quarterback Christian Ponder says his recovery from November shoulder surgery is on schedule. He is throwing lightly and hopes to play in the April 10 spring game. … Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, the former UF offensive coordinator who guided the Bulldogs to a 5-7 record in his first year, received a contract extension pushing his deal to four years. … Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is expected to miss spring practice after breaking a bone in his left foot.
Greyhounds: Bow Tie Brigade, Dr. Randy, Jack's Shortfuse and Kiowa Lazy Lazy drew No. 1 boxes for Saturday night's first qualifying round of the $85,000 Sprint Classic at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg.
Times correspondent Don Jensen, Times wires