As you might expect, both Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib points the finger at the other player for the events that led up to and followed the brawl during Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Broncos.
Both players were ejected from the game for the melee. Both players received two-game suspensions. Both players appealed the ruling. And both players had their suspension reduced to one game. And neither player agrees they deserved to be punished at all.
Both players received statements from the league outlining why they were suspended. Nowhere in those statements did it say the act was premeditated. It was NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart who later said it all looked premeditated. Then Talib repeated it in an interview Wednesday with The Vic Lombardi show on Altitude 950 in Denver.
“Fifteen came out there to fight, man,” Talib said, referring to Crabtree. “He ain’t come out there to play no ball. He came out there to fight. That was in his mind, that was his intentions. It was premeditated. So he punched Chris [Harris Jr.] on the previous play, came out the next play punched me in my stomach. It was premeditated. I guess he wanted to get kicked out.”
Harris said similar after the game, though Crabtree denies it.
“I was just blocking Chris Harris and then he looked at me sideways,” Crabtree told The Athletic. “I always block like that. The Raiders receivers take pride in how they block. I didn't punch him. Just blocked up. Watch the tape.”
In watching the tape, it does appear as though Crabtree punches Harris, though whether or not that is simply how — as Crabtree says — he always blocks, is hard to say. It could very well have been inadvertent. Harris went down after the block/punch and stayed down, saying he couldn’t breathe. As for Crabtree then attempting to punch Talib on the next play; that simply didn’t happen. Not even a little.
With regard to it being a “premeditated” attack, Crabtree makes a rather irrefutable point.
“You know what premeditated is?” Crabtree asked. “When you say you're going to do something, do it, and then laugh about it with the media after the game. Like he did last year. That's all on him.”
That incident he is referring to is the first time Talib ripped off his chain in the 2016 seasons finale. An incident that wasn’t flagged and despite Talib admitting his intentions going into the game, he received no punishment from the league whether in the form or a fine, suspension or otherwise.
All that considered, it’s hard to believe Crabtree when he says he was “not trying to get revenge”. It’s understandable if he was. Especially after the second chain snatching. Anyone would in that situation. Especially someone who’s known for being the fiery competitor as Crabtree is.
“He took my chain off and I blocked him to the whistle,” Crabtree continued. “Yeah, I blocked him to the ground, but I didn't jump on him. They jumped on me. It was seven against one.”
He blocked him through the whistle and well after it. Other than that, Crabtree is right. He didn’t jump on Talib. After that it was Talib ripping off Crabtree’s helmet and Talib’s teammates ganging up on Crabtree while he was on the ground without a helmet.
A report also came out from ESPN’s Adam Schefter saying Crabtree had even taped down his chain and yet Talib still was able to pull it off. Crabtree refutes that report.
“ESPN said that I taped the chain to myself before the game because I was worried about it. I didn't,” he said. “I don't care about no chains. I am just playing ball. Not worried about nothing. I don't like how the whole thing got flipped and I am the bad guy.”
Both players will miss their team’s next game. And neither head coach is happy about the part their guy played in it. That was the second and final meeting between the Raiders and Broncos this season, so maybe this time a season of separation will be enough for things to die down.
“It ain’t gonna happen again,” Talib said, adding “I hope he doesn’t come out like that next game.”
Don’t go all Debo and intentionally destroy his personal property and perhaps he won’t.