The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos are fierce on-field rivals, and the chippy play escalated on Sunday as three players were ejected.
Wideout Michael Crabtree and defensive back Aqib Talib were ejected for fighting and Gabe Jackson was tossed for making contact with an official. Crabtree and Talib have been suspended two games each for fighting.
The only way to get to the visitor’s locker room was by going through the home team’s sideline, which meant Talib had to walk through the Raiders’ sideline. Luckily for him, Marshawn Lynch escorted him to the locker room.
Here was a statement from NFL exec Jon Runyan to Crabtree:
“The series of flagrant violations for which you are being disciplined began with 12:31 remaining in the first quarter — less than three minutes into the game. First, you punched a Broncos opponent Chris Harris in the midsection, resulting in him being removed from the game. 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 altercations, 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.”
And to Talib:
“The series of flagrant violations for which you are being disciplined began less than three minutes into the game. First, while competing on the field, 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 you 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.”
Oakland held on for the late victory, 21-14.
Talib and Crabtree have plenty of history, when Talib snatched Crabtree’s chain last year during a skirmish.
The confrontation began when the two exchanged words after an incomplete pass along the right sideline. Talib shoved Crabtree as he got up off the turf, and Crabtree returned the favor with a head butt to the front of Talib’s helmet—all of which led to the eventual snatch and grab from Talib.
Talib’s explanation for the act, which ended up breaking Crabtree’s chain, did little to help justify it.
“He’s just been wearing that chain all year,” Talib said after the game. “It’s just been growing on me. I said if he wears that chain in front of me, I’m going to snatch it off. He wore it in front of me, so I had to snatch it off.”
Despite an official standing just feet from the incident when it went down, and Crabtree pleading for a flag, Talib was not penalized.
Denver went on to win the game 24-6.