Aqib Talib wants NFL to consider how fight with Michael Crabtree started before issuing discipline

ByJeff Legwold via ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph repeated Monday that it was "unacceptable" for cornerback Aqib Talib to get ejected from Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders for fighting with wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Talib, meanwhile, said he hopes the NFL considers "how it started" before handing down any potential discipline.

Talib, Crabtree and Raiders guard Gabe Jacksonwere ejectedwith 11 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter. Talib and Crabtree were ejected for fighting, and Jackson was ejected for making contact with an official.

Joseph said he addressed the incident at Monday's team meeting.

"It's unacceptable; we can't do it," Joseph said.

"We can't lose our best corner in a game like that," he continued. "It obviously hurt us down the stretch. I told our guys, if we can defuse those things, we have to defuse them. We can't fall into the trap of getting into a fight that ends up losing one of our best players. We can't do it. It's unacceptable; we can't do it."

Meanwhile, in Oakland, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Monday he had yet to speak with Crabtree.

"I'll see him tomorrow," Del Rio said.

The coach also said he doesn't anticipate that Crabtree or Jackson will be suspended.

"That's for the league to decide," Del Rio said of Crabtree. "I would hope not. Based on what I saw, I wouldn't think there would be that type of reaction."

On a second-and-6 play from the Raiders' 24-yard line on Oakland's second possession of the game, Crabtree blocked Talib during a 5-yard run by Marshawn Lynch. Crabtree kept pushing Talib out of bounds near the Broncos' bench area.

Talib and Crabtree then exchanged shoves before they threw punches at each other. Talib said Monday that Crabtree threw a punch at him first. As he did in a game last season, Talib ripped a necklace off Crabtree during the fight.

Several other players from both teams joined in along the Broncos' sideline. Talib eventually got ahold of Crabtree's helmet, pulling it out of a crowd, and he tossed it toward the stands.

"I came out there to play football on Sunday. I don't really know what he came out there to do. ... He came out here on this extra stuff, so one thing led to another," Talib said Monday. "It's unfortunate. I wish it didn't happen, but it happened, so just have to move on."

After initially being removed from the group, Talib and Crabtree reignited things in the end zone.

"The second half of it could have definitely been defused," 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."

Asked whether he believed he would be fined or suspended by the league -- or both -- Talib said he hoped the entire incident would be considered.

"I hope the league sees how it started. ... I didn't come out there to fight or wrestle with him," Talib said.

Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said following the game that Crabtree had punched him in the stomach one play before the fight between Talib and Crabtree. Harris stayed down on the field after the play "because I lost my mind" and then, as he walked off the field, motioned toward the Raiders' bench that Crabtree had punched him.

"I didn't defend Chris. [Crabtree] punched Chris, next play he came and punched me. So he was on his, whatever he was on," Talib said.

Crabtree did not address the media, but fellow Raiders receiver Cordarrelle Patterson said he was not surprised by the fight.

"We all knew it was going to happen," Patterson said. "It was just a matter of time, when. Everybody was ready, prepared for it.

"I don't beef on the football field. I love my money too much. You start fighting, you get fined and get kicked out the next week and losing all that money. I really ain't got time for that, man. So, I just go out there and just try to make friends with everybody."

Del Rio deflected when asked whether, considering the history Crabtree has with Talib, he had spoken with his receiver about keeping his emotions in check before the game.

"We were all about finding a way to beat the Broncos," Del Rio said. "That's all."

Looking back, does Del Rio wish he had that conversation?

"I'm happy that we executed our game plan," Del Rio said, "and won the game."

Joseph said he wouldn't consider any additional discipline for Talib and would wait to see whether the NFL would hand something down. Talib was suspended for one game in the 2015 season for poking then-Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in the eye.

"I'm not sure how it all started," Joseph said. "If the league steps in and they hand something down, that's their decision. Internally? No, because I'm not sure how it all started. And when those things start ... it's a fine line between once it starts, not defending yourself.

"I told our guys I don't want it, but once it happens, how does a guy not defend himself? Punches are being thrown, helmets are off. I don't want it to happen, but if it does happen, you can't blame a man for defending himself," Joseph continued. "I want our guys to simply defuse and walk away. That's what I want."

ESPN's Paul Gutierrez contributed to this report.

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