Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree were both ejected after they started a fight in Broncos vs. Raiders that erupted into a full-blown brawl. It also resulted in two-game suspensions for both players, later reduced to one game each on appeal.
This wasn’t the first time these two have had an on-the-field conflict.
Sunday’s fight started when Talib snatched Crabtree’s chain right off of his neck. That’s exactly where this beef began last season. In the Broncos’ 24-6 win over the Raiders in Week 17 last season, Talib went over to Crabtree on the sideline and yanked his chain, breaking it. Cameras then spotted Talib later laughing about it.
Why would Talib rip off Crabtree’s chain in the first place?
Talib said he did it because Crabtree’s chain annoyed him more and more as the season went on.
“He just been wearing that chain all year, man, it’s just been growing on me,” he said after the Week 17 game. And then he decided he’d had enough.
"I said if he wears that chain in front of me, I'm going to snatch it off,” Talib said. “He wore it in front of me, so I had to snatch it off. He started crying to the ref. He didn't say nothing to me though."
If there was anything else that sparked this aggression, we don’t know what it was. Crabtree said after the game that the two players never had any previous run-ins. This incident last season was the first notable thing that happened between these two players.
What did Crabtree say about it?
He wasn’t impressed.
"I really don't like No. 21, though. I think he's fake ... You aren't tough,” Crabtree said. “You aren't defending anybody up like that. You're acting. You're snatching chains up on the field. What do you accomplish? Are you hard? Are you tough? Does that make you tough? You're snatching chains in front of the police and take off running. That was childish, man."
Crabtree didn’t retaliate against Talib at the time. But he did speak to the refs about it.
"The refs are talking to me like I was playing dirty," Crabtree said. "A guy snatches my chain. He's hitting me after the play. But, if I react, they'll kick me out of the game.
"It was too much. You see the dude and what he's doing in front of me. What do you want me to do? I can't react, or they kick me out of the game and I'm the bad guy. I made a business decision for my team."
Crabtree said he wanted to hit Talib, but he controlled himself.
What happened on Sunday?
We thought this beef was over. Back in September, Talib said he was done worrying about it. He had other, more pressing concerns.
“I’m not worried about Crab boy’s chain,” Talib said on Sep. 29. “I’m not worried about any of that. I’m worried about what routes these guys are running, what concepts these guys are running and stuff like that. So that’s the last thing I’m worried about.”
Apparently the chain triggered something with Talib. He snacted Crabtree’s chain again when the receiver was blocking him on a play. Crabtree didn’t control himself on Sunday, and he and Talib got into a full blown fight.
Crabtree even went to extreme measures to make sure this didn’t happen again.
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
It didn’t matter.
Crabtree kept pushing Talib right out of bounds and took him to the ground. Then they started throwing punches. Other players joined in.
Crabtree and Talib were both ejected from the game. Talib had to walk right past the Raiders’ bench to get to the locker room, and he exchanged words with members of Oakland’s staff on his way. Marshawn Lynch intervened and escorted Talib past the bench.
After the game, Broncos DB Chris Harris Jr. indicated that it wasn’t as simple as a continuation of last year’s game. “Yeah he just sucker punched me,” Harris said of Crabtree.
Here is the play Harris is referencing:
“I have never seen that in the NFL,” he said. “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.”
Broncos safety Justin Simmons added, “He said that Crabtree had hit him, uppercut him on the stomach on his way out. So Aqib took that personal.”
Do these players have beef with anyone else?
Oh, yes. Crabtree and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman have a feud that goes back a few years.
Sherman reportedly tried to shake Crabtree’s hand at a charity event hosted by Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, but Crabtree smacked his hand away. It earned him Sherman’s ire. The Seahawks corner was covering Crabtree in the 2014 NFC Championship game when he swatted away a potential game-winning touchdown, and the beef then got a mention in Sherman’s now-infamous rant to Erin Andrews after the game.
And this isn’t Talib’s only heated rivalry. He’s had conflicts with outspoken former Ravens receiver Steve Smith. Talib also started a fight with Titans wide receiver Harry Douglas last season that turned into a brawl. Talib was retaliating for what he believed was a dirty cut block Douglas put on Talib’s teammate, Chris Harris.
“It was a dirty play by a sorry player,'' Talib said, via Mike Klis of 9News.
The dislike Talib and Crabtree have for each other is pretty evident. We probably haven’t seen the last of this feud.