By MIKE HENRY
This week's arrest of Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib may be the first of countless reminders how much the Buccaneers are going to miss perennial All-Pro linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Even if No. 55 had lost a half-step on the field, he would have been the first to pull Talib aside after he embarrassed the organization by being charged with battery on a cab driver. The alleged victim, identified as David Duggan, said "It was like someone hit me upside the head with a hammer."
The only time I thought about whacking a taxi driver was when one sped through every stop sign in a South Bend, Ind. neighborhood during a rainstorm, but I digress. The Talib incident happened as he and two other men were returning to Tampa from a St. Petersburg night spot.
First-year head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik have voiced their displeasure, privately and to the media. Maybe they'll suspend Talib for a game, if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn't beat them to it.
But being read the riot act by a pillar of the community such as Brooks, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, would have more impact. It might make Talib realize what he's throwing away.
Cleaning house is a regular occurrence in the NFL, but ditching Brooks in February was a callous move, even by the league's standards. He was beloved by fans, played hurt and knew how to get inside a young quarterback's head.
We remember seeing Brooks a few years back at a charity tennis event, where he signed autographs unfailingly until a young boy handed him a Steelers' jersey. Brooks laughed before handing it back. "I don't do that," he said, indicating he'd sign anything except rival gear.
That's loyalty. That's class. The Bucs need an infusion, quickly.
It's beginning to look as if Talib may have anger-management issues, which were obscured as a Kansas Jayhawk, where he turned in three positives for marijuana. His quick temper manifested itself again in May, when he swung his helmet at offensive lineman Donald Penn and hit teammate Torrie Cox in the face, necessitating stitches.
According to reports, Talib has been fined several times by the Bucs for rules violations. The old growth curve just ain't happenin.'
A few days before Talib's troubles, Bucs safety Tanard Jackson was suspended for the first four games of the season for a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. These are problems Morris could do without, as he tries to rebuild the defense without coordinator extraordinaire Monte Kiffin and find a reliable quarterback.
Derrick Brooks could have helped. For starters, by telling Talib to stay out of cabs after 11 p.m. And it wouldn't be the last dose of assistance Morris is going to need.