The 2017 Oakland Raiders have more lives than a cat. Not only are they one game back of the first place Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West, they’re set to go up against quarterback Geno Smith this week as the New York Giants decided to bench Eli Manning.
Manning’s 201-game consecutive start streak will come to an end this Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum, making this an even more winnable game for the 5-6 Raiders.
More good news surfaced in Alameda slightly later Tuesday: Wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s two-game suspension was reduced to one game, making him eligible to return for the Chiefs game two weeks from now at Arrowhead Stadium.
Well done NFL, well done. This was the right call despite many folks thinking that Crabtree was selfish for his actions on Sunday.
I’m not one of those people. I applaud Crabtree for manning up and standing his ground against his bully, Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib.
Rewind to Jan. 1, 2017, in Denver, where Chaingate was officially born. Crabtree had his manhood tested that day. Talib did something that I’ve only seen in the hood and high-school hallways: Ripped Crabtree’s chain smooth off his neck as they were tangled up.
Basically, he had his self-esteem snatched straight from his soul.
But Crabtree didn’t retaliate, kept playing and got ridiculed for months while Talib bragged about dogging him for his jewelry.
(Side note: Players should be wearing jewelry on the playing field. Whether it’s baseball or football, if a player wants to wear his bling, so be it.)
Crabtree put the team first then, but his gangsta definitely was questioned and being known as soft is a label nobody wants placed on them.
Fast forward this past Sunday in Oakland, where Crabtree and Talib were playing against each for the first time since the Chaingate. Crabtree missed the first meeting between the teams with a bruised lung, so you knew there would be some chippiness between the two.
Crabtree taped his chain to his body, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, so he definitely anticipated more friction with the physical and nasty cornerback. A play before their skirmish, Crabtree made a statement against Broncos defensive back Chris Harris Jr. by delivering a strike to his midsection.
Wrong? Absolutely, but he got away with it.
Next snap, we all know what happened: Crabtree and Talib get locked up, Talib pulled another punk move and snatched his chain off for the second time — and boom — all hell broke loose.
Now his swinging with his helmet off was totally uncalled for, so yes, Crabtree deserved to get popped for a game.
However, Crabtree will deservedly not be punished for his original sentence: two games (which would’ve been more like three considering he missed most of the Broncos game). And while folks are calling Crabtree stupid and selfish for his actions, I chuckle because they really don’t get it.
Crabtree had to stand up for himself. It’s that simple. Heck, it may have even sparked the Raiders against Denver. I guarantee you this: His teammates don’t have an issue with what he did.
I asked an NBA player who preferred to be unnamed about the situation on Monday at Oracle Arena. He backed Crabtree and said the receiver should look for Talib this offseason to give him the fade — meaning, go find Talib and kick his ass.
I don’t agree with that and hopefully, both players move on from this.
But, on Sunday — whether Crabtree was looking to play football or pick a fight — he had to stand up to Talib for his shenanigans.
Luckily, it didn’t cost the Silver and Black in the win column and their whirlwind of a season is still alive.
For Crabtree, he’ll return in Week 14 looking to make up for his actions. The cost of missing a game was worth it. It was time to check the neighborhood bully. It was time for Crabtree to stand up to Talib once and for all.
Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from 12-3 on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner, and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.