ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib were suspended two games each without pay on Monday for fighting during the recent game between the two teams.
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Jon Runyan announced the suspensions a day after the two players brawled during Oakland's 21-14 victory. Both players can appeal the suspensions.
The fight was a continuation of a dispute that started last season when Talib ripped Crabtree's chain off during the season finale. Crabtree missed the first game between the teams this year but didn't wait long to seek revenge.
Crabtree punched Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. while blocking him on the first play of Oakland's second drive. He then aggressively blocked Talib on a running play and drove him to the ground on the Broncos' sideline on the following play, starting the brawl.
"Your actions triggered a melee and endangered various sideline and league personnel, including one of our game officials who was injured trying to maintain control of the situation," Runyan said in his letter to Crabtree. "Finally, during the ensuing altercation, you grabbed and twisted that same opponent's facemask and threw a punch at him. Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations."
Talib once again ripped Crabtree's chain off his neck. He also took Crabtree's helmet off and threw it, as well as exchanging punches with Crabtree.
"You deliberately ripped your opponent's chain from his neck just as you did last year when you played against him," Runyan wrote in his letter to Talib. "Then, when the two of you went to the ground after a subsequent play, you aggressively removed his helmet and threw it in his direction, endangering him and various sideline personnel in the near vicinity. Finally, once you were momentarily separated from your opponent, you again engaged him and threw a punch."
Both players are eligible to return on Dec. 11. Crabtree will miss games against the New York Giants and Kansas City, while Talib will have to sit out against Miami and the New York Jets.
The suspension is costly to the Raiders (5-6), who are one game out of a playoff spot and now will be without a starting receiver for two weeks. Crabtree is tied for the team lead with 42 catches and has 502 yards receiving and a team-high six touchdowns.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio disagreed with the ruling, pointing to a fight earlier this season between Jacksonville cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green that led to no suspensions.
"Hard to understand the reasoning for this," Del Rio wrote on his Twitter account, "based on most recent ruling w/ altercation."
The Raiders also could be without their other starting receiver in Amari Cooper, who suffered a concussion and a sprained ankle later in Sunday's game after a hard hit by safety Darian Stewart that drew a penalty.
Talib is perhaps Denver's top cover cornerback. His replacement, rookie Brendan Langley, surrendered a touchdown pass and a critical third-down completion that kept Denver from getting a shot at tying the game.
"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 earlier in the day.
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