ENGLEWOOD - Aqib Talib isn’t necessarily begging for mercy upon Roger Goodell’s court.
He just hopes the NFL commissioner’s lieutenants in charge of discipline notice how it was Michael Crabtree who instigated their fight that drew more buzz than the Oakland Raiders’ 21-14 victory against Talib’s Broncos.
“I came out there to play football on Sunday and I don’t really know what (Crabtree) came out there to do,’’ Talib said Monday in an interview with the Denver media in front of his locker. “I came out there to play football and he came out here on this extra stuff, so one thing lead to another. It’s unfortunate and I wish it didn’t happen, but it happened. Just have to move on.”
Talib, the Denver Broncos’ All Pro cornerback, and Crabtree, the Raiders’ top receiver, engaged in a fervent brawl that led to their ejections as well as Oakland guard Gabe Jackson before the game was 4 minutes old.
Raiders Broncos fight pic.twitter.com/9vqhJ7HSjz— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dkurtenbach) November 26, 2017
Even if two Raider starters were bounced to the Broncos’ one, it hurt Denver more because Oakland quarterback Derek Carr picked on Talib’s replacement, rookie Brendan Langley, for crucial completions.
Talib said the fight started when Crabtree threw a cheap-shot punch at him. Talib retaliated by then grabbing and yanking Crabtree’s necklace – as he did in a game January 1 to end the 2016 regular season.
Standing up for himself Talib doesn’t regret. Given a do-over, Talib said he would have taken a less combative response. The fight lasted a couple minutes, starting on the field, spilling into the sideline, then shuffling into the end zone where Talib and Crabtree exchanged punches.
“I guess the second half of it definitely could have been diffused,’’ Talib said. “That’s what I’m disappointed about, the second half of it. The first half, that was him being extra. That’s what he wanted. He didn’t want to play that game, he wanted to come out and wrestle all day.”
Talib, Crabtree and Jackson will all be both disciplined by the league office, but Talib hopes in his case his punishment is no more than a fine. However, given this was not his first episode of misconduct, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s not suspended for a game or two.
“I hope the league sees basically how it started and sees I didn’t come out there to fight and wrestle with him,’’ Talib said.
Joseph takes exception to Del Rio’s comments
After a collision with Broncos safety Darian Stewart, Raiders receiver Amari Cooper was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Stewart also needed medical attention on the play.
After the game, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio chastised Stewart.
“It was a vicious hit,” Del Rio said. “It’s the kind we’re trying to remove from our game, quite frankly.
You see less and less of those. I’m sure the league will take a hard look at it. Those are the kinds of impact hits that don’t need to be a part of our game right now. The guy is clearly defensive less and got targeted right in the head. There’s a chance to hit in the strike zone and be somewhere else and not be there like that.”
The play did look vicious initially, and Stewart was flagged for unnecessary roughness. But upon video review, Stewart led with his shoulder pad and it was such a high-speed, bang-bang play, it’s unlikely the collusion could have been avoided.
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph saw the play much differently than Del Rio did.
“As a coach, when things happen on the field you have to go back and watch the tape before you make comments like that,’’ Joseph said. “There were four, five plays in that game that I didn’t like either, but I wouldn’t speak on that after a football game. I would go back and watch the tape and make sure that was what it was.
“Now, speaking about Stew’s play, Stew was trying to avoid the guy. Stew hurt himself avoiding hitting the kid in the neck and the head area. The ball was thrown way inside of the hash and it was thrown high, Stew went to make a play on the ball and the receiver ducked, in my opinion. Stew pulled his head out to not make helmet-to-helmet contact and lowered his shoulder. Cooper’s head is under Darian’s elbow. To me, it was a good football play. So, it was not a dirty play in my opinion.”
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