Chris Hovan believes Tampa Bay Buccaneers management has been too lenient on his former teammate, Aqib Talib, and it's time to hold the troubled cornerback accountable for his actions.
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Speaking Thursday on WQYK-AM in Tampa, Fla., Hovan called on Bucs coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik to cut ties with Talib, who was arrested last month on assault charges in Texas. It was Talib's second arrest since 2009.
Hovan believes Morris is an enabler for Talib, who has been involved in a string of ugly incidents on and off the field since the Bucs selected him with the 20th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Talib has 15 interceptions in three seasons.
"(Talib) has been given too much leeway from Raheem Morris because, I guess, Coach Morris (the Bucs' former secondary coach) has favoritism towards him because he played defensive back," said Hovan, who started all but one game for the Bucs between 2005 and 2009. "Again, they are giving this young man way too much leeway. Any other individual would have been cut way before this. But Aqib's got so much talent -- his talent goes through the ceiling. But you can't have these offseason issues and you can't keep covering for this kid because they're saying it's OK for what he is doing."
Talib's troubles created speculation that the Bucs might try to draft a cornerback next week. Dominik said Thursday that "I don't think you can ever have enough cornerbacks," but that stance hasn't been influenced by Talib's situation.
"It doesn't really affect me other than it just reinforces my opinion that you can never have enough cornerbacks in the National Football League," Dominik said. "We have, right now, eight selections, and who knows where we're going to use them and at what positions."
Police in a Dallas suburb said Talib turned himself in on a warrant accusing him of firing a gun at his sister's boyfriend March 21. Talib was released after posting a $25,000 bond.
Police say they believe Talib and his mother, Okolo Talib, shot at the man, who wasn't injured. Talib denied the charges through his lawyers.
Talib was charged with simple battery and resisting arrest in connection with an assault on a taxi driver in Tampa in 2009. He was suspended by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for the 2010 season opener as punishment for that incident, and Talib settled out of court with the cab driver.
Talib's troubles date to 2008, when he was involved in a fight with fellow Bucs rookie Cory Boyd at the NFL Rookie Symposium. In May 2009, Talib wound up inadvertently hitting teammate Torrie Cox in the face with his helmet while fighting with Donald Penn during a minicamp workout.
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Hovan said Bucs management is sending the wrong message to players by continuing to employ Talib while he gets in trouble.
"It's not fair to the other players right now because you have all these other players right now following the straight and narrow and you are letting one individual go out and do his own thing? I don't feel that is acceptable right now," Hovan said. "Raheem and Mark Dominik need to address this because they are saying that he is bigger than the team right now.
"I mean, how many times do you let this guy go off the hook, though? How many times? I mean, how many people does he have to hurt? How many times is he going to get sued? Or how many times is he going to go to jail before you get it right? Who is going to step in? Has Raheem stepped in? I have not seen Raheem step in."
Hovan believes Talib's latest arrest should be the final straw for the Bucs and the league.
"You need to suspend this individual and take his money, and that's how he'll start listening," Hovan said.
"I really think Aqib is really immature. I don't feel, for the way he plays, these off-the-field incidents are going to get him off. I really feel it is going to get him in the end, and it is going to get Bucs management in the end. And in the end, if they release him, they are going to say, 'Well, it just didn't really pan out.' Well, that's because, how many times do you have to get arrested or hit somebody?"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.