There is an intensity to Aqib Talib that helps make him the wonderful player he is.
He plays with ultra-competitive emotion. It’s what helps makes him an All Pro cornerback who one day will receive consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But Aqib Talib has no right to cost his team the game.
He may well have committed such an unforgivable act after he got ejected for fighting his personal adversary, Michael Crabtree, while his rookie replacement, Brendan Langley, got beat on a couple pivotal plays during two touchdown drives in the Broncos’ 21-14 loss to the Oakland Raiders here Sunday afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum.
“I don’t like it,’’ said Broncos head coach Vance Joseph when asked when he thought about Talib engaging in a fight. “And it’s unacceptable. We can’t lose our best players because of a personal battle. That’s a personal battle. This is about the Broncos so it’s unacceptable. We can’t have it. It’s non-negotiable. Obviously, losing one of our best players and playing a young guy, it hurt us tonight. We can’t have it.’’
Talib wasn’t available to comment after the game. Not only was he ejected a little more 3 minutes after the opening kickoff, he is almost certain to be suspended by the league as this was not his first offense. He was suspended for one game in 2015 for poking the eye of Indianapolis tight end Dwayne Allen.
With Talib gone, rookie cornerback Brendan Langley was picked on by Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr.
“There were technique issues,’’ said Langley, who got beat by Amari Cooper on a 9-yard touchdown pass and got flagged for pass interference in the end zone that gave Oakland a first-and-goal from the 1, a situation that led to another score.
Was it tough coming off the bench cold and having the Raiders go right at him?
“Was it tough? No, not all,’’ Langley said. “I don’t think anybody in the stadium was expecting me to play but that’s what I’m here for. You’ve got to be ready at all times.’’
Chris Harris Jr., Talib’s cornerback teammate, blamed Crabtree for instigating the incident. Harris said Crabtree punched him in the stomach area on the play before the Talib-Crabtree fight. Harris was recovering from the blow on the sideline when the fight – which at times got vicious -- took place.
Harris said Talib told him Crabtree punched Talib in the stomach before Talib snatched Crabtree’s necklace, the final straw to setting off the brawl.
“Today he just wanted to come out and fight, he didn’t want to play football,’’ Harris said of Crabtree.
Whatever the excuse for retaliation, the way it worked out, losing Talib hurt the Broncos far more than losing Crabtree and guard Gabe Jackson, who was also ejected following the melee, hurt the Raiders.
What makes Talib’s ejection even more disturbing is he’s a defensive co-captain, along with Von Miller. Captains are supposed to lead their squad to victory, not make a mistake that is a major factor in defeat.
“I know both of those guys extremely well,’’ said Miller, who grew up in the Dallas-suburb of DeSoto while Crabtree grew up in Dallas and Talib in nearby Richardson, Texas. “Crab is like an older brother to me. ‘Lib is like an older brother to me. Those guys getting into whatever they’ve got -- it drags me in there because I know both of those guys extremely well.
“It’s just unfortunate that we have that. Both of those guys are the main guys in Dallas. Both of those guys have a lot going on. They both do a lot with the youth.
“If we can get those guys together – I don’t know how we’re going to do it – but if we can get those guys together it would be better for our city that we call home.
“You want to keep your guys in the game. But some stuff, there’s no way … there’s no way I’m going to be able to control ‘’Lib. There’s no way I’m going to be able to control Crab. There’s no way I’m going to be able to do it.
“Those guys are superstars. They have minds of their own. I could say whatever and it’s going to hurt us, regardless. Of course, it hurt us. We want to not have our guy there. But ‘Lib is our captain if that’s the way he wanted to approach him then I support him 100 percent.’’