The Raiders and Broncos got to fighting early in their late-afternoon matchup in Oakland, which was sparked by Michael Crabtree and Aqib Talib. The ensuing melee resulted in two-game suspensions that were later reduced to one-game suspensions for both players.
Crabtree was blocking Talib on a play, and continued to wrestle with him to the sideline, where things got chippy:
But Crabtree’s frustration grew because Talib grabbed his chain, and snatched it off. It’s the same thing that happened last season when the two teams faced off in January.
Knowing he was going to face Talib, Crabtree went so far as to tape the chain to himself. But it still got ripped off by the Broncos cornerback.
Crabtree was surrounded by members of the Broncos, before members of the Raiders made their way over. After Crabtree had gotten away and had his helmet off, both Crabtree and Talib took swings at each other.
In total, Crabtree, Talib, and Raiders guard Gabe Jackson were ejected in the fight. Jackson was fined $30,387 for making contact with an official, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
After the game, Chris Harris Jr. indicated that Talib’s fighting of Crabtree was instigated after Crabtree hit him with a sucker punch.
Here’s what Harris was referencing:
“Yeah he just sucker punched me,” Harris said of Crabtree. “I have never seen that in the NFL. Today, he just came out wanting to fight. He didn’t want to play football. It was the second play of the game. It was a run play, I was playing man, and I wasn’t even doing anything. He just came in there, was like BAM, hit me right in the middle of the stomach and I just lost my breath.”
The ensuing play, is when Talib then retaliated for Harris.
There’s a history behind this.
This was Talib snatching Crabtree’s chain last season, with the interaction between the two being much less violent than it was on Sunday:
Talib was later seen on the sideline during the broadcast making a pulling motion at his neck, indicating that he didn’t favor Crabtree’s gold chain.
In that game, Crabtree had five receptions on eight targets for 47 yards. Earlier in that season, he had just two receptions for 27 yards.
Crabtree talked trash about Talib after that game.
After that game, Michael Crabtree told reporters that Aqib Talib is “fake” as a football player, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.
“You hard? You tough? You snatch a chain in front of the police and run off?” Crabtree said. “I could have cut (block) him. I could have hurt him.”
He told the Mercury News in 2016, “I really don’t like 21. I think he’s fake. I think he plays with too much help. He talks too much. Like if you playing the game, I respect it. But if you doing all that, snatching chains after the whistle in front of the ref.”
Talib just didn’t like Crabtree’s chain.
At that time, Talib was pretty simple in his explanation for why he did it, too. “He’s just been wearing that chain all year and it just been growing on me,” Talib said via the Mercury News. “I said if he wears that chain in front of me I’m going to snatch it off. So he wore it in front of me so I had to snatch it off.”
This wasn’t the first rematch since that happened, but it’s the first one that Crabtree played in. The Broncos and Raiders played in Week 4, but nothing came of last season’s altercation with Crabtree not on the field.
Sunday in Week 12, it did. We won’t get to see how this matchup would have gone compared to last year’s, but if the Raiders’ production offensively this season would be any indication, perhaps not all that much better. But to be fair, the Broncos have struggled mightily as of late.
The fight will be something that’s going to be talked about during the week, and likely reviewed by the NFL.