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FOXBOROUGH — Malcontent. Punk. Thug.
Those are some of the words that followed cornerback Aqib Talib to New England when the Buccaneers traded him in November 2012, sent packing by a team that had had enough of his antics and had no intention of re-signing him when his contract expired at the end of that season.
The tags and the baggage that accompanied Talib were earned, and he acknowledges that.
When your first four-plus NFL seasons are marred by fights with teammates, disregard for team rules, two arrests and a four-game suspension for violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, it’s hard to be seen as anything other than a malcontent.
Or punk. Or thug.
But in his nearly 15 months in New England, Talib has endeared himself to his teammates and coaches with an infectious enthusiasm he carries with him in meeting rooms, on the practice field, and in games.