Call it the curious case of the suspicious saliva.
A day after Miami Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder accused Ravens running back Le'Ron McClain of spitting in his face, the two players -- as well as their coaches and teammates -- continued to trade barbs debating both the size and the intent of the alleged expectorate.
Video of the incident was studied and analyzed by players, coaches, fans and media alike, with a frame-by-frame analysis once reserved for more serious matters like the Zapruder film. The back-and-forth didn't exactly carry the intellectual heft of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, but it did make for a lively day in the NFL, which will look into the matter, commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday on ESPN.
Even McClain acknowledged he had watched video of the altercation several times, in several different videos, but he continued to assert that he did not spit on Crowder.
"I did not spit on the man," McClain said.
At least intentionally anyway. McClain did hedge a bit on the outright denial he offered in the locker room Sunday. Some of his saliva probably landed on Crowder, McClain said, but he contended it only occurred because the two were having a heated exchange, one of many they had throughout the game.
"Nothing against him, but I did not spit on the guy," McClain said. "We had words back and forth. We said a few things we probably didn't want to say to one another. But there was no spitting involved. I'm not that type of player. I don't know why he got mad."
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said he planned to send video of the incident to the league. The NFL Network reported that the league is investigating the incident.
"I have enough evidence," Sparano said. "It's upsetting to me. Spitting in somebody's face, nowhere in this game do I see any place for that."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh did not see it the same way.
"I don't believe for one second it happened," Harbaugh said. Crowder "might have thought that it happened, but it wasn't the way it was described, so we're past that. The game is history."
McClain said he didn't think the incident would hurt his reputation around the league.
"There's nothing I can do," McClain said. "All I can do is tell them to just watch film of No. 33 every week. I'm just getting ready for Atlanta. You can say what you want about me. I'm a great guy. I've never been a guy like that. They need to check him, not me. He said stuff to me I didn't want to hear. I said stuff to him that he didn't want to hear, but it's football. After the game, all props to him and his team. Nothing against him, but I'm on to Atlanta. If they want to stick with this the whole week, they can, but I'm playing Thursday night, man."
Ray Lewis said he went to McClain after the game and asked him whether he spat on Crowder, and he was satisfied with McClain's denial.
"I just went to him and just asked him if he did it or he did not," Lewis said. "Once you get an answer, you move on."
Sparano seemed slightly annoyed about the way he felt the Ravens acted during the game. In his news conference Monday, he mentioned that one of the Ravens players -- although he didn't name which one -- was talking to him throughout the game.
"I had a player talking trash to me from the other team, and I didn't say one word to the guy," Sparano said. "I mean, whatever floats your boat, but I don't really think it's part of the game."
Derrick Mason didn't hesitate Monday when asked whether he was the player Sparano was referring to. Of course he was.
"Yeah, I said something to him," Mason said. "And I'll say something to him again if we play them again. It's football. I'm out there having fun. I didn't say anything malicious. I'm always out there having fun, just talking trash."
Mason said he'd heard enough from the Dolphins.
"He's probably just making excuses," Mason said. "There comes a point where, as a grown man, you have to accept that the game is over. Is that an excuse why your team didn't win because we were talking trash? You all started it. You all couldn't finish it. Now we move on. We're not worried about you anymore. It's football. What do you want us to do? Go out there and be quiet? He didn't say nothing about his guys talking. Man, get over it. You all got Tennessee this week."
Crowder, who was handing out Thanksgiving dinners for charity at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., grocery store, would not comment Monday.
When asked how it felt to have Sparano backing his version of events, Crowder smiled and said, "We're playing the Tennessee Titans this week."
Sun Sentinel reporter Steve Svekis contributed to this article.