The NFL levied a large penalty on Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos defensive back Aquib Talib.
The league suspended both players two games without pay for their part in a massive brawl during Sunday’s game at Oakland Coliseum.
The punishment was harsh by design. The NFL wanted to open some eyes.
“I think a two-game suspension is designed to both discipline appropriately a player, and also get their attention,” NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said Tuesday morning in a conference call. “I expect this has gotten their attention.”
Crabtree and Talib have appealed their suspensions. Those appeals will be heard later Tuesday with a same-day ruling, ESPN reported, to give player and their respective team some clarity on the issue heading into next week’s game. The Raiders host the New York Giants at Oakland Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
The league rarely levies two-game suspensions for on-field actions. This one is essentially three, given Crabtree played just five snaps before getting kicked out.
This brawl was unique in it’s length and aggressiveness.
“First, this thing appeared to be premeditated,” Lockhart said. “It appeared three minutes into the game. There’s a history there. It was prolonged, as you watched it play out from one side of the field to the other. Importantly, it put other people at risk, including sideline personnel and league personnel. I think the letter from (NFL VP of football operations) Jon Runyan put out explains why this wasn’t just a fine or a one-game suspension, given how prolonged it was and the various offense committed by both players.”
Here’s an exerpt of the letter sent to Crabtree, as released Monday night by the NFL.
"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 altercation, 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."