Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneers should take a good look at Eric Wright amid drug-use allegations

adell@bradenton.comOctober 31, 2012 

TAMPA

Guilt by association won't hold up in a court of law, but an NFL front office has to take a different approach.

For Eric Wright, it means a thorough examination.

A strong case can be made that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' cornerback has managed to stay one step ahead of the posse.

His good fortune might be running out. But even if he can wiggle his way out of another legal problem, it's time to question his effect on the team.

Head coach Greg Schiano has done a good job molding his players into what he calls "Buccaneer Men." He has brought hope to a franchise that can be 4-4 if it beats the Oakland Raiders this weekend.

So he has to ask himself if he needs to put up with Eric "Wrong."

It has been widely reported that Wright tested positive for Adderall and will soon serve a four-game suspension unless he wins on an appeal, which is unlikely.

Schiano said in accordance with NFL rules he could not comment on the reports, but would not deny the allegations Monday.

Every person is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. But if you connect the dots on Wright, it gets scary, especially with him playing opposite Aqib Talib.

It seemed everybody wanted to run Talib out of town when he was recently suspended for taking Adderall, a substance the NFL bans, citing it as a performance-enhancing drug. For a player to take it, he must get a doctor's prescription and then a waiver from the league.

Talib got neither.

He is not known for making wise decisions and to keep him out of trouble, you want to surround him with people who will

look out for his best interests, which brings us back to Wright.

Here is what we know about the 27-year-old: In 2005 while at USC, Wright faced three sexual assault charges, according to the Los Angeles district attorney's office, which also said it found 136 Ecstasy pills in his apartment.

The district attorney's office said the alleged victim was unwilling to testify, and without her testimony it would be difficult to prove the drugs belonged to Wright. The district attorney decided not to file charges.

Last July, Wright was arrested on suspicion of felony driving under the influence in Los Angeles after being involved in an accident.

He reportedly refused to submit to a Breathalyzer or field sobriety test and eventually the district attorney decided not to file formal charges.

In 2010, Wright played for the Cleveland Browns with cornerback Joe Haden. The former Gator was suspended for four games prior to this season for using a PED, allegedly Adderall.

Giants' defensive back Will Hill, who played at Florida with Haden, was suspended earlier this month for taking Adderall. He will be replaced by Tyler Sash, who was previously suspended by the NFL for reportedly using Adderall.

This is not to say Wright is a central figure in an epidemic, but you can't help but wonder if he is caught up in it and whether the Bucs' front office should be concerned about his influence.

Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer, who originally reported Wright's failed drug test, said the Bucs tried to stagger the suspensions of their two cornerbacks with Talib not filing an appeal so he would be back before Wright goes on the suspended list.

Wright did not practice Monday because Schiano said he was nursing an Achilles tendon injury. Wright was not available to the media.

The Bucs acquired Wright last March, signing him to a five-year, $37.5 million contract, a price many considered too high. But Tampa Bay was thin at cornerback.

After taking over the Bucs last winter, Schiano got rid of defensive back Tanard Jackson, who had missed significant time because of multiple failed drug tests and was recently suspended for the 2012 season (with Washington) for another failed drug test.

When someone asked Schiano this week if there was a drug problem with the Bucs, he emphatically said no.

Can he be so sure there is not a problem with Eric Wright?

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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