NFL changes decision on Michael Crabtree’s brawl punishment

NFL changes decision on Michael Crabtree’s brawl punishment

ALAMEDA – Michael Crabtree’s two-game suspension without pay has been cut in half. The Raiders receiver appealed the ruling in a Tuesday afternoon hearing, and appeals officer Derrick Brooks reduced the punishment later that evening.

That’s a huge relief to player and team.

The Raiders will get Crabtree back in time to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 10, possibly a pivotal contest in deciding the AFC West champion. Crabtree gets a game check back.

Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib were suspended for starting a brawl in Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Broncos.

Crabtree will still forfeit $367,647 in base salary and a game-day roster bonus for missing Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, but obviously gets paid for his efforts against the Chiefs.

The NFL’s original punishment was designed to get their attention, to say what happened Sunday at Oakland Coliseum is unacceptable.

Crabtree allegedly punched Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. a play before he and Talib escalated things.

Talib snatched a chain off Crabtree’s neck – he reportedly taped it to his body – and Crabtree drove Talib into the turf. Several others joined the melee, where several threw punches. Crabtree’s helmet was ripped off and Talib threw it at him. Then they squared off on the middle of the field and swung at each other some more.

Both players were ejected. So was Raiders right guard Gabe Jackson, who made contact with an official. He won’t be suspended, though he’ll be fined later in the week.

The hammer came down on Crabtree and Talib because the league considered it premeditated and prolonged. There was also a history, dating back to a New Year’s Day game where Talib was not fined or penalized for snatching Crabtree’s chain the first time. Crabtree didn’t retaliate then. He did Sunday, and things got nuts.

The players were formally suspended Monday night. A reduction was expected, though not guaranteed, heading into Tuesday’s hearing.

It does not, however, alleviate trouble on the Raiders front. The Silver and Black will likely play the Giants without Crabtree or Amari Cooper, who suffered a concussion and an ankle sprain during a violent collision Sunday with Broncos safety Darian Stewart. Cooper remains in the concussion protocol, and was seen with a walking boot on Tuesday.

That means Derek Carr will be working with Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton for most of that game. Isaac Whitney will be formally promoted from the practice squad on Saturday for depth, as Crabtree moves to the reserve-suspended list.

This isn’t a positive development, though the Raiders have the talent required to be the Giants without their top wideouts. The Giants essentially benched quarterback Eli Manning, and will go with Geno Smith and possibly rookie Davis Webb against the Raiders.

As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient


As career winds down, Donald Penn is becoming impatient

ALAMEDA – Donald Penn plans to play two more years after this one. That’s it.

The Raiders left tackle plans to play out a contract extended this fall, which would complete 14 NFL seasons.

Penn wants to make the most of the time he has left. This season hasn’t been good use of an opportunity. The Raiders are on life support following Sunday’s 26-15 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders entered Kansas City with a chance to control their own destiny, a shocking and possibly undeserved turn following the Chiefs' midseason collapse. They went from 2-4 to sitting atop the division with four games to play. They had a chance to erase a disappointing start, and ultimately coughed it up. They did that last year, too, and had to settle for a wild card spot.

“One of these days we’re going to stop giving it away. We we’re going to take it,” Penn said Tuesday. “Maybe I, being a veteran, need to do a better job of leading these guys and reminding them that chances are rare. I’m only playing two years after this, so my opportunities are getting shorter and shorter. I want to play in and win a Super Bowl before I’m done. My sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now.”

Salvaging this season might be tough, and players know it. They were just as frustrated as head coach Jack Del Rio was talking to the press a day before. This Chiefs loss stung. They were given a golden opportunity and squandered it. 

The Raiders need to win out and get tons of help to reach the postseason. They can’t get eliminated this week, but an eighth loss Sunday to Dallas would be a virtual death sentence.

“If we don’t beat Dallas, there won’t be a playoff scenario,” Penn said. “All I can focus on is our next game. We have to get that going and do something positive. It has been a frustrating season.”

A victory over K.C. would’ve been huge, but the Raiders never showed up in a terrible offensive effort. The Raiders had three or fewer plays on six of their first eight drives, and were shutout into the fourth quarter.

“We didn’t make plays when we had the chance. Kansas City did,” Penn said. “They made all the plays at the right time they needed to. They made the plays we didn’t make early in the game. We were still fighting. We didn’t make progress with the chances we had.

“We had opportunities but didn’t capture them. It festered all through the game. We did the same thing last year. We went to Kansas City last year with a chance to control our own destiny and gave it away.”

Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity


Del Rio 'frustrated and pissed off' after Raiders waste golden opportunity

ALAMEDA – Head coach Jack Del Rio started his Monday press conference with a message for Raider Nation.

He didn’t wait for a question or a prompt. Del Rio just went for it, and set the tone for a new reality. Going to the playoffs is a considerable long shot after Sunday’s 26-15 loss in Kansas City. Not an impossibility, but it’s close.

Del Rio wanted everyone to know that’s unacceptable, and he isn’t happy about it.

“As players and coaches, we are as frustrated and pissed off about what occurred yesterday as anybody out there,” Del Rio said. “Losing a game like that hurts, and there are no words I can say here today that will take away that pain or make people who care about the Raiders feel better. I’m really not going to try.”

Fans should be upset when a team with offensive firepower to spare can’t score consistently. Fans should be upset when drafted players weren’t developed, and major defensive flaws weren’t addressed in the offseason.

This year’s Raiders are a woefully disappointing 6-7, nowhere near the lofty internal expectations held to start this season. It feels like a waste now, with so much talent producing so little. People will point fingers. Someone will ultimately be held accountable and several will end up unemployed, players and coaches alike.

That’s what happens when you fall short. Ownership isn’t happy. Nobody is.

Looking back, Del Rio wishes his team would’ve played with abandon, with some risk in their play. The Raiders haven’t done that much this year, tiptoeing through quality competition with lackluster results.

“I think that there have been many examples throughout this season where we have not played boldly to go make the plays,” Del Rio said. “I would really like to see that because, at the end of the day, if you kind of go half-way, it’s not good enough anyway. I’d love to see us just let it rip. And go play. We’ve talked about playing with our hair on fire, talked about that kind of effort and energy and playing fast. That’s what I believe in, and I’d love to see it more often.”

The Silver and Black played like that back in Week 7, in a game against Kansas City. It was the only time these Raiders channeled last year’s group, which got by with a little hocus pocus and quality performance under pressure. It felt like a turning point then. The past few weeks proved it was not.

The Raiders could still make the playoffs. Getting there was simple math heading into Sunday’s game. Now calculus is required.

What comes next? The Raiders have to win out and pray for rain, hoping it’s good enough to sneak into the postseason through the back door. Different is necessary to do that. They simply haven’t been good enough or consistent enough to believe that’s possible.

“We have to coach it better. We have to execute it better, as players and coaches,” Del Rio said. “Head coach and quarterback get a win-loss record off of their performance in these game. We’ve won a bunch of games over the last three years, and we’re going to continue to win a bunch of games. Yesterday was a disappointment. We can’t go back and do anything about that. I tell guys all the time that you get what you earn in this league. What we’ve earned is 6-7. What we have in front of us are three games and what we’ve got to do is play good football and win the next one and see where that takes us.”