Commentary | Eric Wright becomes Tampa Bay Buccaneers' latest million-dollar headache

adell@bradenton.comJuly 4, 2012 

The honeymoon is over at One Buc Place.

Thank you, Eric Wright. Hope you enjoyed imbibing yourself before sliding behind the wheel of your Mercedes.

Are you thinking no big deal, you didn't hurt yourself or kill anyone? Your history indicates that is how you decipher things.

But know this. You destroyed a good part of what new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano has been trying to do with his oh-so-fragile team.

So this is how you spend the money the Bucs showered on you. We don't know whom to blame more, you or the front office for giving you all that


Schiano has worked hard to implement the "Buccaneers Way" of doing things while instilling discipline and commitment. He talked about putting "Men of Character" on the field.

To have a newly acquired free agent pull the plug from his efforts is more than disheartening.

Wright's arrest for suspicion of felony driving under the influence in Los Angeles last weekend falls on the shoulders of Bucs GM Mark Dominik. Schiano deserves a pass, for now, because he is new to the NFL.

The incident brings back thoughts of bad draft choices, money poorly spent and an inability to see character flaws evident to everyone else.

Remember the words "Buccaneer Men," the phrase so aptly coined by Dominik this year when he described the new type of players that would dot his roster.

Critics were already shouting that Wright's five-year $37 million contract was woefully swollen with dollar bills that could've been put to better use.

Trouble is not new for Wright.

It's why you have to wonder why Dominik would throw all that cash at him and pass on Morris Claiborne or not bother to make a push for Dallas Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins, the Southeast High product who has asked for a trade.

While at USC, Wright was arrested on multiple sexual assault charges (same case), including rape, and 136 Ecstasy pills were found in his apartment, according to published reports.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Los Angeles district attorney said the alleged victim, an 18-year-old co-ed, told them Wright gave her one of the pills and then raped her. The district attorney said the victim then was uncooperative and unwilling to testify, and the case was dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Wright has already been under public suspicion for missing most of the Bucs' offseason workouts with what the team described as a non-football-related illness.

When suspicions start piling up faster than interceptions, raise the caution flags. Some NFL teams put the red flag out on him, but the Cleveland Browns took the cornerback in the second round of the 2007 draft.

Wright might eventually beat this case, but in the stupidity rankings this is a felony.

Here is a guy who is well-rewarded and selfishly put a team trying to climb its way out of last season's rubble into a precarious situation.

He was brought in to play corner opposite Aqib Talib, who just got a get-out-of-jail-free card, but still hasn't escaped the long arm of NFL top sheriff Roger Goodell.

The Bucs could begin next season without these two cornerbacks if Goodell seeks to suspend them a few games for conduct unbecoming to everything pure and wholesome in the NFL.

Wright could become another Dominik mishap and an embarrassment to himself and the organization.

His off-the-field issues should have sent off alarms for a Bucs team that so desperately needs discipline.

Everyone deserves a second chance, but this alleged DUI could be symptomatic of a problem. Wright does not seem to be a person who fits a character-building mode, especially for a young, impressionable team.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112.

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