Commentary | Eric Wright is Bucs' biggest mistake under GM Mark Dominik's watch

adell@bradenton.comJuly 21, 2013 


Eric Wright is gone, and everyone at One Buc Place should breathe a sigh of relief.

He was an embarrassment and a danger to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He had two DUIs in less than a year, coupled with other misguided behavior.

Traded to San Francisco on Friday, the cornerback has all the signs of a substance abuser. He needs professional help, and if he doesn't get it he will soon be out of the league.

The roads are a little safer today in Tampa.

So this one is on Mark Dominik.

The Bucs' general manager didn't do his homework, couldn't read the tea leaves correctly or saw only what he wanted to see before signing Wright to a five-year, $37.5 million free-agent contract prior to last season. Then he kept handing out second chances.

Dominik is fortunate Wright's contract was voided last season when he was suspended for four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, relieving the Bucs of $15 million guaranteed money they owed him.

His suspension followed a DUI arrest in which the charges were dropped.

When he played at USC, Wright was arrested on suspicion of rape, but the charges were dropped. The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office said it found 137 ecstasy pills in his apartment but couldn't prove the pills belonged to Wright because of an uncooperative witness.

Wright was arrested last

week on suspicion of driving under the influence. He might beat the charge. The one thing the cornerback does very well is pick attorneys; he does it better than picking off opposing quarterbacks.

But his ability to escape the law has compounded his problems. It always does for substance abusers. They live in denial and will not admit their problem until they hit their proverbial bottom.

There is a likelihood Wright will be suspended by the NFL for a significant amount of time this season, perhaps eight games.

His character issues were evident. Last season on a Sunday during his suspension when his teammates were struggling to win a game, he tweeted how he was enjoying himself at a spa with a woman.

It showed a disconnect from reality.

The Bucs chose to keep him, and he became a cancer eating away at the core of what Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano was trying to do in changing the culture of the team.

Schiano was perhaps fooled by Wright. Substance abusers do that. They bend the truth and con and try to gain your sympathy.

Maybe it was easier for the soon-to-be 28-year-old Wright to dupe Dominik because the GM feared the repercussions of another losing season. Regardless, he should admit his mistake. That would get him some credibility with the fan base.

If the Bucs don't live up to expectations this season and Domink is out of work, Eric Wright will become the albatross he wears around his neck for the rest of his NFL career -- if he has one.

We know the NFL is not a league of choirboys, but Wright stepped into another dimension and no one stopped him. They enabled him.

Now he is the 49ers' headache, and their GM, Trent Baalke, is saying similar things; that they did their diligence on Wright and expect him to work hard and contribute to the team.

But here is something maybe the 49ers should consider. In 2011, San Francisco had the fifth-highest number of DUI arrests among cities in the United States and it's Wright's hometown.

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

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