Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib are no strangers to each other, but they’re no friends either. Last year, the two got into an altercation following a play that resulted in Talib yanking Crabtree’s gold chain from his neck. It seems the bad blood has boiled over into this year too, as the two got into another heated confrontation in Sunday’s divisional matchup.
After a play that was occurring on the other side of the field, Crabtree continued to shove Talib out of bounds after the whistle was blown, which led to both of the players going down and beginning to shove each other. Unsurprisingly, the scrap escalated, and after Crabtree says Talib pulled off his chain just as he had done a year ago, he decided to throw a punch, despite Talib’s helmet remaining on. Talib had already ripped Crabtree’s helmet off as well.
Though the commotion caused a lot of the players’ teammates to join in on the action, the two were separated thanks to the quick work of the officials. But it didn’t hold them back for long, as Talib and Crabtree “reignited” their feud in the endzone, as NFL’s vice president of operations John Runyan put it.
Runyan has now issued two-game suspensions to both Crabtree and Talib, but both players say they will appeal on the same merit of instigation by their counterpart. Both players were originally ejected following the play. Crabtree would miss games against the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs, and Talib would forgo contests against the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.
“Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams and lead to further confrontations,” Runyan said in his suspension letter to Talib. To Crabtree, Runyan stated that his actions “triggered a melee and endangered various sideline and League personnel, including one of the Game Officials who was injured trying to maintain control of the situation.”
Both teams’ coaches were matter-of-fact about the situation, claiming it was clearly an incident that should’ve been avoided.
“It’s unacceptable. We can’t do it. We can’t lose our best corner in a game like that,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said. “It obviously hurt us down the stretch. I told our guys, if we can defuse those things, we have to defuse them. We can’t fall into the trap of getting into a fight that ends up losing one of our best players. We can’t do it.”
Though Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said he’d have to watch the tape to determine what happened, he seemed disappointed after the suspensions were announced.
“Hard to understand the reasoning for this judgement based on most recent ruling w/ altercation see WR Cin and DB Jax = 0 games suspended,” Del Rio said on Twitter.
Though Crabtree refused to speak to the media following the game, Talib was more honest and open about the whole thing, saying that although he didn’t want to engage, the situation spiraled out of control.
“The second half of it could have definitely been defused,” Talib said. “That’s what I’m disappointed about — the second half of it. The first half, that was him being extra. That’s what he wanted. He didn’t want to play that game. He wanted to come out and wrestle all day.”
Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. also claimed that Crabtree had punched him in the stomach on the play prior to his engagement with Talib.
“I didn’t defend Chris. [Crabtree] punched Chris,” Talib said. “Next play he came and punched me. So he was on his whatever he was on.”
However, Broncos coach Vance Joseph did continue to question the line between getting in a kerfuffle and having to defend yourself.
“I told our guys I don’t want it, but once it happens, how does a guy not defend himself? Punches are being thrown, helmets are off. I don’t want it to happen, but if it does happen, you can’t blame a man for defending himself. I want our guys to simply defuse and walk away. That’s what I want.”