ALAMEDA – The Raiders will certainly miss receiver Michael Crabtree during his one-game suspension. Teammates understand why he’s gone.
Denver cornerback Aqib Talib snatched Crabtree’s chain Sunday for the second time in as many meetings, which led to a massive brawl early in a 21-14 victory over Denver. That produced ejections for both players and two-game suspensions halved on appeal. It was a messy situation. Light years from ideal. Maybe, though, a necessary evil.
“They have history that you have to understand,” tight end Jared Cook said. “Nobody’s tripping on it around here.”
Crabtree didn’t retaliate in the 2016 regular-season finale, when Talib snatched his chain without provocation. Talib wasn’t penalized, fined or suspended for the offense, which he bragged about after that game.
Crabtree retaliated this time when Talib broke his chain, and things got messy. Crabtree blocked Talib to the ground on the Denver sideline, and several Broncos jumped him at the same time. Then Crabtree’s helmet was taken off and thrown back at him. The pair swung wildly at each other.
Despite such a messy scene, teammates understand Crabtree’s decision to push back.
“I understand that we’re in a unique position, that we’re on the football field in front of millions of people or whatever and you have to handle yourself accordingly,” Raiders cornerback David Amerson said. “At some point, it becomes about a respect thing. I’m pretty sure he was tired of people making jokes about the (last) chain snatch, and this and that. Of course, you want to be a team guy, and Mike is a team guy, but I understand everything about how he felt. Not saying I would encourage it, but I understand it. Any man can understand that situation.”
The location doesn’t change the emotion felt when someone takes or ruins something that belongs to you.
“If you haven’t had somebody take something from you, then you don’t understand,” cornerback Sean Smith said. “Especially (if it’s) a stranger. There’s no way to explain (that feeling).”
There is something unique, Amerson says, about a chain or piece of jewelry.
“A chain around your neck is something you work hard for, something that costs a lot of money,” Amerson said. “It’s something that you value. Somebody coming to snatch that off your neck is like taking your manhood or something that you really value or care about. It’s a sticky situation.”
It’s a situation the locker room considers in the past. Crabtree will return to it next week, in time to play the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs.
“What’s done is done. What happened, happened,” Amerson said. “Everybody has seen it. Regardless of how you may feel, I feel like that was something that was probably going to happen after what’s gone on over the years. As a team, we have to move on. We have players ready to step up and their places. …We’ll be all right. The team has his back. We’ll always have Mike’s back. We’re going to move on.”