The league has come down hard on the two major combatants in Sunday’s brawl between the Broncos and Raiders.
Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib have each been suspended for two games, which, if upheld upon appeal, would be the second and third players this season to receive multigame suspensions for an on-field infraction. Prior to this season, there were only 5 such suspensions in NFL history (see table below).
Renewing their intense combativeness from last season early in the game, Crabtree pushed Talib from the field of play about 20 yards before a brawl began. The sideline also erupted in side skirmishes after the play, in which Raiders offensive lineman Gabe Jackson shoved an official. All three players were ejected from the game less than 4 minutes into the game.
In addition, Crabtree was cited by the league for a punch during the previous play that was not seen during the live action and was not penalized.
The NFL czar of discipline, Jon Runyan, handed down the suspensions late on Monday. Runyan issued the following case in a letter to Crabtree:
The series of flagrant violations for which you are being disciplined began with 12:31 remaining in the first quarter — less than three minutes into the game. First, you punched a Broncos opponent Chris Harris in the midsection, resulting in him being removed from the game. Then, on the subsequent play, you blocked a different Broncos opponent (Aqib Talib) into the sidelines beyond the yellow media border, well after the play was over. 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. 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’s infractions were enumerated by Runyan:
The series of flagrant violations for which you are being disciplined began less than three minutes into the game. First, while competing on the field of play, you deliberately ripped your opponent’s chain from his neck just as you did last year when you played against him. 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. … Such actions have no place in this game, engender ill will between teams, and lead to further confrontations.
The Raiders play the Giants
and Chiefs over the next two weeks, while the Broncos face the Dolphins and Jets.
Former players James Thrash and Derrick Brooks serve as appeals officers. Either both will hear an inevitable appeals case, or one will hear both cases to uphold or reduce the suspension. So far this season, they have upheld three suspensions and reduced two .
Multigame suspensions of NFL players for game infractions
|Albert Haynesworth||TEN||2005||5 games||stepping on face of prone, helmetless player (ejected)|
|Vontaze Burfict||CIN||2017*||3 games†||blindside block/unnecessary roughness with prior suspendable infractions (no penalty)|
|Vontaze Burfict||CIN||2015**||3 games||multiple infractions of defenseless player hits (no penalty)|
|Brandon Meriweather||WAS||2014*||2 games||defenseless player hit, multiple prior illegal hits‡|
|Ndamukong Suh||DET||2011||2 games||stomped on prone player (ejected)|
|Charles Martin||GB||1986||2 games||slamming quarterback long after pass thrown (ejected)|
|*preseason. **postseason, served in 2016.†reduced from 5 games on appeal. ‡a prior suspension was reduced from 2 games to 1 on appeal.
Sources: So You Think You Know Football?, Football Zebras research