Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib blames Michael Crabtree for starting the fight that got both ejected, denying he was defending teammate Chris Harris when he ripped the Raiders wide receiver’s chain off his neck.
“If you see the play, I didn’t defend Chris,” Talib said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post. “He punched Chris, and the next play he came and punched me. He was on his whatever he was on. I wasn’t even defending Chris this time you know what I”m saying. That wasn’t even a problem.”
Harris accused Crabtree of punching him in the stomach the play before Talib and Crabtree renewed their rivalry with fisticuffs. Talib and Crabtree both grew up in Dallas, and the two fought in their last meeting on Jan. 1.
On Sunday, Crabtree was blocking Talib when Talib ripped off Crabtree’s chain. Crabtree then pushed Talib into the ground on the sideline, setting off the melee.
“I came out there to play football on Sunday,” Talib said. “I don’t really know what he came out there to do. I just came out there to play football. He came out here on this extra stuff, so one thing led to another, man. It’s unfortunate. I wish it didn’t happen, but it happened.”
Talib and Crabtree then ended up near the end zone, trading punches.
“The second half of it definitely could have been diffused,” Talib said, via Troy Renck of Denver7. “That’s what I’m disappointed about, the second half of it. The first half of it 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. That’s what happened.”
Denver coach Vance Joseph talked to Talib and to the team about the incident, telling them they can’t “fall into the trap of getting into a fight that ends up losing one of our best players.” The Broncos hope they don’t lose Talib this week after the league reviews the incident and disciplines both players.
“I hope the league sees how it started,” Talib said when asked if he fears a suspension. “I hope the league sees that, basically, how it started and sees I didn’t come out there to fight and wrestle with him.”