NFL Changes Decision on Michael Crabtree's Brawl Punishment

ALAMEDA – Michael Crabtree's two-game suspension without pay has been cut in half. The Raiders receiver appealed the ruling in a Tuesday afternoon hearing, and appeals officer Derrick Brooks reduced the punishment later that evening.

That's a huge relief to player and team.

The Raiders will get Crabtree back in time to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 10, possibly a pivotal contest in deciding the AFC West champion. Crabtree gets a game check back.

Crabtree and Denver cornerback Aqib Talib were suspended for starting a brawl in Sunday's game between the Raiders and Broncos.

Crabtree will still forfeit $367,647 in base salary and a game-day roster bonus for missing Sunday's game against the New York Giants, but obviously gets paid for his efforts against the Chiefs.

The NFL's original punishment was designed to get their attention, to say what happened Sunday at Oakland Coliseum is unacceptable.

Crabtree allegedly punched Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr. a play before he and Talib escalated things.

Talib snatched a chain off Crabtree's neck – he reportedly taped it to his body – and Crabtree drove Talib into the turf. Several others joined the melee, where several threw punches. Crabtree's helmet was ripped off and Talib threw it at him. Then they squared off on the middle of the field and swung at each other some more.

Both players were ejected. So was Raiders right guard Gabe Jackson, who made contact with an official. He won't be suspended, though he'll be fined later in the week.

The hammer came down on Crabtree and Talib because the league considered it premeditated and prolonged. There was also a history, dating back to a New Year's Day game where Talib was not fined or penalized for snatching Crabtree's chain the first time. Crabtree didn't retaliate then. He did Sunday, and things got nuts.

The players were formally suspended Monday night. A reduction was expected, though not guaranteed, heading into Tuesday's hearing.

It does not, however, alleviate trouble on the Raiders front. The Silver and Black will likely play the Giants without Crabtree or Amari Cooper, who suffered a concussion and an ankle sprain during a violent collision Sunday with Broncos safety Darian Stewart. Cooper remains in the concussion protocol, and was seen with a walking boot on Tuesday.

That means Derek Carr will be working with Seth Roberts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Johnny Holton for most of that game. Isaac Whitney will be formally promoted from the practice squad on Saturday for depth, as Crabtree moves to the reserve-suspended list.

This isn't a positive development, though the Raiders have the talent required to be the Giants without their top wideouts. The Giants essentially benched quarterback Eli Manning, and will go with Geno Smith and possibly rookie Davis Webb against the Raiders.

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