Three minutes into the Broncos-Raiders game on Sunday, Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver corner Aqib Talib ignited a brawl:
Both players were ejected, along with Raiders guard Gabe Jackson. Talib and Crabtree were suspended for two games a piece, the league announced on Monday. Sources told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that both will appeal the decision.
The cornerback and wideout have a history—the last time these two teams met, in Week 17 of last season, Talib ripped off Crabtree’s chain after the two exchanged words.
Talib isn’t the first cornerback to show Crabtree disrespect, and Crabtree may have had the chain incident on his mind when he blocked Talib into the sideline well after the play had ended. But this might not have just been about last year’s incident—in the video below, Talib’s right hand appears to rip off Crabtree’s chain AGAIN right before Crabtree blocks him into the sideline (and past the chain crew, into the cameramen, and onto the ground).
This is just the latest fight in a season that has seen some intense on-field altercations between players.
And in a Pulitzer-worthy journalistic effort, ESPN’s Adam Schefter learned Monday that Crabtree taped his chain to his chest in anticipation of his matchup against noted chain thief Talib, but the Broncos corner snatched it anyway.
Raiders’ WR Michael Crabtree taped his chain to himself before Sunday’s game, knowing he was facing the chain-snatching Broncos CB Aqib Talib. And Talib still got it.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 27, 2017
This game is a must-win for both the Raiders (4-6) and the struggling Broncos (3-7) (and possibly many Crabtree fantasy owners as well). With the division-leading Chiefs in free fall, both Denver and Oakland still have a shot at the AFC West, and the AFC wild-card race is so wide open that the winless Browns weren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs until Thanksgiving Day. Oakland losing one of its top pass catchers and Denver losing one of its best defenders could be the straw that breaks the teams’ backs during the last gasp of a playoff push.
Moral of the story: Don’t rip off other people’s chains.