DENVER -- Two chains leads to two games for Aqib Talib.
After reviewing Sunday's fight in Oakland, the NFL suspended Talib and Oakland receiver Michael Crabtree two games for violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness rules.
An NFL source said Monday that Talib plans to appeal. Talib stands to lose roughly $1.4 million in salary if the discipline holds, and he effectively misses three games since he was ejected on Sunday's third drive.
While admitting disappointment in his actions, Talib said Monday afternoon he believed he would avoid further discipline if the league investigated the incident, placing blame on Crabtree as the instigator. However, the league did not see Talib's actions in a vacuum. NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan indicated that Talib's past played a role in the punishment, citing Talib's swiping of Crabtree's chain last season.
Runyan's letter to Talib read as follows:
"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."
Broncos coach Vance Joseph widened his view on the topic Monday. He indicated Talib had the right to defend himself -- which he did not say on Sunday -- but explained the cornerback needed to "defuse the situation" rather than escalate it.
"I told our guys I don’t want it, but once it happens, how does a guy not defend himself? Punches are being thrown and helmets are off -- I don’t want it to happen, but if it does happen you can’t blame a man for defending himself. I want our guys to simply defuse and walk away. That’s what I want," said Joseph, whose Broncos have lost seven straight games, tying their longest skid since 1967. "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."
Pending his appeal, Talib will be sidelined for the Dolphins and Jets games without pay. The Broncos will likely have to add a cornerback back this week. They only have three on the active roster -- Chris Harris Jr., Bradley Roby (who will start in Talib's absence) and rookie Brendan Langley (who was beaten multiple times against Oakland). Denver cut Lorenzo Doss last week for being late to a meeting, and he called out general manager John Elway on Twitter over the weekend, making it unlikely he returns. Marcus Rios is a candidate to be promoted from the practice squad.
This represents Talib's second suspension with the Broncos. The NFL disciplined him one game for poking the eye of the Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in 2015. The Broncos players supported Talib in this latest incident, believing he was only responding to Crabtree's actions.
"It was a bunch BS. Just BS. (Crabtree) came out there and didn't want to play football. He wanted to fight," Broncos defensive lineman Zach Kerr said. "If we wanted to fight we could have mopped him up. We weren't down with that BS. We were trying to win a football game."