ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Aqib Talib says he understands why the NFL suspended him for poking Colts tight end Dwayne Allen in his right eye. He just hopes the league agrees it was accidental once he gets to tell his side of the story.
“I think I deserve discipline. I didn’t initially poke him in his eye. But as you can see, I did get him in his eye,” Talib said Monday. “It was unintentional. They’ve got the right to discipline me as they did.”
The NFL swiftly slapped Talib with a one-game suspension Monday, and just as quickly Talib appealed the punishment “just for the simple fact that it was not intentional,” he said.
“I didn’t walk over there like I’m going to poke this guy in his eye. But I know I should have never gone over there in the first place.”
If upheld, Denver’s star cornerback will miss the Broncos’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) this weekend. He’ll also miss out on a $323,529 paycheck on his $5.5 million base salary.
“I sat with Aqib on the plane coming home last night, had a long talk with him,” coach Gary Kubiak said Monday. “He’s wrong. He needs to stay out of the situation. It hurt the team.”
Talib said Kubiak stressed that his actions prevented Peyton Manning from getting the chance to mount a comeback. Manning finished 3 yards and one touchdown shy of breaking two of Brett Favre’s biggest NFL records, for most career passing yards and most victories by a starting QB.
“I know I’ve got to be smarter than that, got to make better decisions, especially at the time of the game,” Talib said.
“We’ve got full confidence that we stop them on that third down, with the two-minute, Peyton can come down and score a touchdown and get that 187th win in dramatic fashion. I cost us the opportunity to go down and get those points. So, that’s kind of what we talked about on that plane.”
Kubiak said his conversation with his cornerback convinced him the poke in the eye was an accident.
“He went to push him – which he shouldn’t do anyway, it doesn’t matter – then, obviously, his hands are inside his facemask,” Kubiak said. “I’m convinced, and after talking to Aqib, that he had no intention of poking anybody in the eye.”
Talib was whistled twice in the final 2 minutes, 25 seconds of Denver’s 27-24 loss at Indianapolis that knocked the Broncos (7-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The first was for unnecessary roughness when he poked two fingers into Allen’s facemask after Allen and Von Miller were shouting and shoving following a 2-yard run by Frank Gore.
After the game, Talib said he tried to “poke his head. I think my hand slipped there and hit his face. He acted like he got into an 18-passenger car wreck. I guess that’s what type of guy he is.”
The second infraction came when linebacker Danny Trevathan was whistled for holding on a chip-shot field goal with 28 seconds left, giving Indy a first down and allowing the Colts to run out the clock. At that point, Talib tauntingly clapped at an official, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
On Monday, Talib said he apologized to his teammates for losing his cool.
“I strongly believe it was an accident,” tight end Vernon Davis said. “He didn’t mean it. He came on the bus and was saying he felt bad.”
NFL Vice President of Football Operations Merton Hanks ruled that Talib’s actions “places his opponent at unnecessary risk of injury and should have been avoided.”
Derrick Brooks or James Thrash will rule on his appeal, which Talib expects to be heard Tuesday, the Broncos’ day off.
The Pro Bowl cornerback has a troubled past, including a four-game suspension in 2012 for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances and a one-game ban in 2010 for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Until Sunday, Talib had been a model player in Denver since signing a six-year, $57 million free agent contract in 2014. He was one of their MVPs over the first half of the season, leading Denver’s top-ranked defense with three interceptions and two pick-6s.
Although the Broncos lead the league in several defensive categories, they also lead the NFL with 17 personal fouls.
“I’m very concerned,” Kubiak said. “Statistically, we have the No. 1 defense in football, but we’re also the most penalized. We’ve got a great thing going on. We’ve got something that needs to get corrected. We have to find a way in the second half of the season to turn that around.”
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