Aqib Talb understands the essence of football. It’s a vicious game that eats its young, and if you want to be successful, it makes sense to fully embrace the vicious side of your heart.
Most football players hide their violent side. Talib never apologized for his football wickedness, and he never will.
He was a magnificent performer for the Broncos. Von Miller has reigned as emperor of Denver’s defense, but Talib was only a few steps behind.
He’s gone, flying off to Los Angeles to join fellow Bronco discard Wade Phillips. Together, Wade and Aqib will bond once again on the NFL’s premier defense, a title held not long ago by the Broncos.
An era is over. Denver’s defense might remain strong next season, but it will not roar with the same frightening power as it did when No. 21 was lurking in the backfield.
A snarling bunch of defenders carried the Broncos and an ancient version of Peyton Manning to a Super Bowl title. Little that this defense did was socially acceptable.
These violations never bothered Talib.
"They call it dirty," Talib said, "but we just call it Bronco football."
Sending Talib to Los Angeles will save the Broncos $11 million in salary cap. A spending spree might bring balance back to the Broncos, who were a lopsided team the past two seasons, strong on defense, weak on offense.
The future Bronco – Kirk Cousins? - who is handed that cash had better produce. Next season, Talib will excel under Wade’s direction. He’ll shut down receivers all over America. He’ll probably seize an interception and take it to the end zone. He turned 32 Feb. 13, but he’s a young 32. He’ll terrorize quarterbacks for another four or five seasons.
No parent has ever told her/his child, “I hope you grow up to be like Aqib Talib.” The man strayed far beyond the bounds of behavior endorsed by mothers everywhere, and we’re not just talking on the field.
In 2015, he poked the eye of Colts tight end Dwayne Allen and cost the Broncos a chance at victory. In the Super Bowl, he tried – he really did - to rip off Panther Corey Brown's head and later bragged about his sinister act.
He was accused of assaulting a taxi driver, of resisting arrest, of firing a gunshot over a man's head and, yes, of shooting himself in the leg.
On June 5, 2015, the day before the Broncos visited the White House, Talib suffered a bullet wound in his right thigh. He probably did the shooting.
But remember this, too: A mere 95 days after the shot to the leg, a still-recovering Talib intercepted an Andrew Luck pass at Mile High and sprinted 46 yards to the end zone against the Colts. The image of him standing triumphant in the end zone on his wounded leg will be my lasting memory of him. Nothing, not even himself, could vanquish Talib.
No. No way.