On Monday, we got an answer: because Crabtree took precautions to prevent a recurrence of what happened last season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Raiders star “taped his chain to himself,” all the better to foil his light-fingered nemesis.
As Schefter noted, Crabtree’s plan did not exactly work. Just a few minutes into the game, Talib had his prize, causing Crabtree to shove the Bronco well out of bounds, leading to a fight and the ejections of both players, plus Oakland guard Gabe Jackson, who made contact with a referee during the melee.
On Monday, Talib didn’t apologize for taking Crabtree’s chain, but he did describe the sequence as “unfortunate.” Talib claimed that Crabtree had “punched” another Broncos cornerback, Chris Harris, on the previous play, then punched him on the play that sparked the brawl, adding of the wide receiver, “So he was on whatever he was on.”
“I came out there to play football on Sunday,” Talib told reporters (via NFL.com). “I really don’t know what he came out there to do. I just came out there to play football. He came out here on his extra stuff — one thing led to another, man. It’s unfortunate. I wish it didn’t happen, but it happened.”
Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that he planned on speaking with Crabtree about the incident on Tuesday, when his players return to Oakland’s facility. Del Rio added that he hoped no suspensions would come of it, but the NFL saw things differently, handing down two-game bans Monday for both Crabtree and Talib.
“First, you punched a Broncos opponent Chris Harris in the midsection, resulting in him being removed from the game,” the league’s vice president of football operations, Jon Runyan, said in a letter to Crabtree. “Then, on the subsequent play, you blocked a different Broncos opponent (Aqib Talib) into the sidelines beyond the yellow media border, well after the play was over. Your actions triggered a melee and endangered various sideline and League personnel, including one of our Game Officials who was injured trying to maintain control of the situation. Finally, during the ensuing altercation, you grabbed and twisted that same opponent’s facemask and threw a punch at him … Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations.”
In a letter to Talib, Runyan said, “First, while competing on the field of play, you deliberately ripped your opponent’s chain from his neck just as you did last year when you played against him. Then, when the two of you went to the ground after a subsequent play, you aggressively removed his helmet and threw it in his direction, endangering him and various sideline personnel in the near vicinity. Finally, once you were momentarily separated from your opponent, you again engaged him and threw a punch … Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations.”
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