NFL suspends Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib for brawl

NFL suspends Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib for brawl

ALAMEDA – Aqib Talib was completely unprovoked in ripping a gold chain off Michael Crabtree nearly 11 months ago. There was no warning, no history, no beef.

Crabtree didn’t retaliate in that game, saying he made a “business decision.” An AFC West title on the line, and a playoff game. Crabtree knew the Raiders couldn’t afford to play without him in that game or the future.

That same thought didn’t prevail Sunday afternoon. Crabtree put on a chain before Sunday’s game between the Raiders and Broncos, the first time he and Talib would share a field since the original incident. He taped it to his body, according to ESPN.

That report suggests Crabtree knew trouble was brewing. He had plenty of time to consider another business decision. He didn’t make the same choice.

Crabtree seemed to punch cornerback Chris Harris Jr. in the gut to start the Raiders’ second drive. The Broncos cornerback took exception.

Crabtree was lined up with Talib on the next play. They locked horns, and then things got out of control. Talib ripped Crabtree’s chain again. This time, the veteran receiver didn’t hold back. He drove Talib into the ground, and a brawl broke out. Punches were thrown, helmets were ripped off and facemasks were grabbed.

Both guys were ejected on Sunday. That wasn’t enough for the NFL. The league suspended Crabtree and Talib two games without pay for the altercation.

Crabtree will appeal the suspension, a league source said.

Player and team will be punished serverely if he serves the full term.

The Raiders wouldn’t have their most reliable receiver next week against the New York Giants or in a Dec. 10 contest at AFC-West leading Kansas City. Both are must-win games as the Raiders attempt a late-season playoff push. His absence would be magnified if Amari Cooper can’t clear the concussion protocol and rebound from a ankle injury posthaste.

Crabtree will lose significant funds during a suspension without pay. He’ll forfeit $735,294 before taxes in base salary if he’s gone two games, $367,647 if he only misses one. Those totals don’t include per-game roster bonuses which, per, total $31,250 a game.

That’s a hefty sum to be sure.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said before punishment was levied that Crabtree didn’t deserve further punishment. He reiterated that stance on social media Monday night.

“Hard to understand the reasoning for this judgementbased on most recent ruling w/altercation,” Del Rio wrote on Twitter. “See WR Cin and DB Jak = 0 games suspended.”

Del Rio is referring to Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green and Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who were only fined after a Nov. 5 altercation where Green choked his foil and punches were thrown.

That will certainly be addressed in Crabtree’s appeal. So will the fact Crabtree already missed most of one game. A two-game suspension would essentially be three games out. There’s no precedent for that.

That NFL was bothered by this feud’s history, though it didn’t penalize, suspend or fine Talib for the original chain-ripping incident.

The league came down hard this time, as NFL VP of football operations Jon Runyan expressed in letters written to both players.

“Such actions have no place in this game,” he said, “engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations.”

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Three things you need to know from Raiders' 20-17 loss to Cowboys


Three things you need to know from Raiders' 20-17 loss to Cowboys

OAKLAND – Here are three things you need to know from Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Coliseum:

1. Turn out the lights, the party’s over: The Silver and Black haven’t been technically eliminated from playoff contention. They needed to win their final three games and get some help entering Sunday’s game. Now they need a miracle.

The Raiders would win certain four-way tiebreaker at 8-8 – Baltimore’s presence would screw things up -- or a five-way tiebreaker that includes the Chargers, but…Come on. Who are we kidding? That ain’t happening. The Raiders are done. They likely were after a decisive loss at Kansas City the week before.

Can’t say they deserved better. They were far too inconsistent to expect a different outcome, even after the Chiefs’ midseason slide brought the AFC West back into play. There’s plenty of talent on this team, not enough cohesion and coaching to get by. They earned 12-4 last season with magic and fourth-quarter moxie that didn’t stick around another year.

They didn’t score enough or generate enough turnovers to seriously compete, leaving lofty expectations ultimately unmet. The Raiders might be the NFL’s disappointing team this season, even without them being formally eliminated.

They showed great fight against Dallas, but there weren’t enough of that grit to carry through tough times and win crucial close games.

“It stinks,” tight end Lee Smith said. “It’s been a disappointing season. Tonight was disappointing. We’re still going to come to work and fight in Philadelphia on Christmas, just like we did tonight.”

2. Loss more than one (okay, a few) bad call(s): Raider Nation’s upset over a questionable (at best) fourth-quarter call that swung Sunday’s game. That was bogus. Y’all got screwed, right good.

Pulling Michael Crabtree for a concussion evaluation on the game's fateful play  -- it was originally designed for No. 15 -- seemed odd. Pass interference on Jared Cook's touchdown at first-half's end seemed suspect. 

Even so, several opportunities remained to win that game, well beyond the obvious final drive. That’s when Derek Carr drove the Raiders inside the 10 and took off running, only to fumble out of the end zone trying to dive for the goal line. That’s a turnover and a touchback, by rule, that formally ended the game.

Don’t forget about an interception by Sean Smith deep in Cowboys territory that the offense could turn into a touchdown. They settled for a field goal. That’s a four-point swing.

How about Giorgio Tavecchio’s missed 39-yard field goal at the end of the half? Those points would’ve tied it at game’s end.

It’s fair to say that fourth-down call was pivotal, but there were several chances to win a close game and the Raiders couldn’t pull through.

3. Raiders show grit: The NFL is a zero-sum game. You win or you lose. Nothing else matters. Al Davis’ mantra, for goodness sakes, is ‘just win, baby.’

I won’t sell you on anything else, but…They showed fight in defeat, especially after falling behind 10-0 in the first half, was unlike other performances this season. This group rolled over too often to be legitimate contenders, and this effort proved too little, too late in this game and this season.

It was impressive considering the playoffs were a pipe dream entering the game.

“The fight our team played with today, that was familiar. That looked like us,” Carr said. “Did we execute 100 percent of the time? No. Did we play a really good defense? Absolutely. We played a good team. At the end of the day, we lost. It is what it is> I can say that we left it all out there.”

Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call


Referee: Paper provided 'reaffirmation' of first down, Raiders fuming from call

OAKLAND – The Raiders’ 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night swung on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down measurement so close a result was hard to determine.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott’s sneak on 4th-and-inches didn’t get far, and possession wasn’t perceptible right away. Officials brought first-down markers to midfield for a measurement with five minutes left in the game.

A Cowboys first down was awarded. Eventually. Officials took a long look at the ball in relation to the sticks, and then used a folded index card as part of their decision.

Referee Gene Steratore told a pool reporter after the game that the card wasn’t part of the original decision.

“That was already finished,” Steratore said. “The ball was touching the pole. I put the card in there and as soon as it touched, it was nothing more than a reaffirmation. The decision was made based on my visual from the top looking down and the ball touching the front of the pole.”

Steratore was asked why the card was used at all, and Steratore reiterated that the card did not make the judgment. Steratore had not used a card before, even as affirmation for a first-down decision.

“It’s maybe been done at some point in someone’s career but I didn’t use the card for my decision,” Steratore said. “I used my visual looking at the ball reaching the pole.”

If all that sounds confusing, it should. It certainly was for the Raiders, who lost a golden opportunity to win a game. Dan Bailey’s 19-yard field goal concluded that drive and created the final margin for victory.

The Raiders had an opportunity to win the game later in the fourth quarter, but quarterback Derek Carr fumbled through the end zone trying to cross the goal line and win the game with 30 second left, which is a turnover and a touchback by rule.

That swing first-down decision, however, really stuck with the Raiders after the game.

“I don’t want to get fined, okay?” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m not happy with the way things were done…(I’ve) never seen air like that and have it somehow turn into a first down. There was air between the ball and the stick. That’s short. The ball goes the other way. Period.”

Raiders middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman was in the thick of things, and was flummoxed by the spot, the decision and that Dallas was awarded a first down he doesn’t believe it earned.

“If you could be in the circle and see where that ball was, I don’t see how they got that,” Bowman said. “For them to pull that paper out to solidify the first down? There was space between the ball and the sticks. I just don’t know.”