HENDERSON, Nev. – Coach Jon Gruden said Las Vegas Raiders players “disappointed their dauber a bit” when they broke COVID-19 protocol by showing up unmasked at an indoor charity event Monday night. Quarterback Derek Carr, who attended the event, said the players “had a few moments where we slipped, took off our masks so people could see our face.”
However, they both built on why the players were attending the event in the first place: it was a fundraiser for teammate Darren Waller’s foundation to help at-risk youth overcome addiction. Waller himself has been sober for three years.
“I hate that a few moments without our masks led to a story about our team and all that sort of thing, especially after the fines that were imposed a couple of weeks ago,”
News of the Raiders who appeared at the event without masks surfaced a day before Tennessee Titans reported positive COVID-19 tests from four players and five team staff members.
Earlier this month, Gruden was fined $ 100,000 for not wearing his pitchside mask correctly during the Las Vegas win against the New Orleans Saints on September 21. The Raiders have been fined $ 250,000 and are also being investigated by the NFL for allegedly allowing an unauthorized team employee into the locker room after that game.
Meanwhile, the NFL has issued another strong warning to coaches that they will not wear sideline masks during matches, threatening the suspension and forfeiture of draft picks as punishment for failing to comply with game day COVID-19 protocols. according to a memo from the league. obtained Wednesday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“We all know this is a terrible, terrible virus,” Gruden said. “And we have to do our part; we are all vulnerable. Unfortunately, few people seem to have caught the virus. I wish everyone in Tennessee only the best. And you will surely wake up to the reality of, it can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime. “
Gruden, who said he had the coronavirus in July, made it a team mission to “crush the virus.” During training camp, he had T-shirts made with that slogan along with the Raiders logo on them.
“I’ll just say this: we did a good job, we did a great job,” Gruden said. “Last night it was faced with our players. They came in with their masks; there was an event. Sometimes you go to a restaurant, you take off your mask. They are aware of their mistake.
“But we did a great job – using our masks, taking care of each other and everyone. I’m really proud of our players. And by the way, it was a great cause that no one talked about. [Waller] raised over $ 300,000 for a great cause. I appreciate that our players are there to support him. “
On Wednesday afternoon, an NFL spokesperson told ESPN.com in an email that the league was “looking into the matter,” which violated Nevada state regulations for the pandemic and may have violated league regulations.
NFL and National Football League Players Association rules limit the activities that players can perform when away from team facilities. Players, it is claimed, are not allowed to participate in any event that “violates local and state restrictions”.
The Raiders will host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White said the problem was “definitely something the boys were mentioning in the locker room” but added that the team mostly weren’t worried.
“It has raised a lot of antennae. But I feel like we keep taking precautions and doing all the things we should do and go to the places we should go without being selfish, I think we’ll be fine,” White said.
Bills manager Sean McDermott added: “What we try to do is control what we can control on our side. I have a lot of respect for coach Gruden and I’m sure they are above everything.”
Join Carr at Waller’s event they were backup quarterback Nathan Peterman; tight endings Jason Witten, Foster Moreau and Derek Carrier; wide receivers Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow; cornerback Nevin Lawson; and in the center Erik Magnuson.
The event was held indoors at the DragonRidge Country Club, which was fined $ 2,000 by the City of Henderson for four violations of the Nevada Governor’s COVID-19 emergency policy, including people who wore no masks and more than 50 people at the event. The club now has 30 days to pay the fine or contest it.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN on Tuesday night: “The guys have to be tougher in fighting the virus. He’s still our toughest opponent.”
Carr, who posed for photos with an unmasked guest who won his jersey at an auction, said he realized not wearing a mask at the event was a mistake.
“We have signed waivers,” Carr said. “Hand sanitizer, like crazy … We weren’t perfect, but we weren’t trying to be careless or reckless. But at the same time, [Waller] they organized an event for something that meant a lot to him and they raised so much money that you won’t even begin to imagine how much money they raised to help other people struggling with addiction, to put them in the right place and things like that. My hope and my prayer is that some moments when we get confused, a few minutes here, where we were seen on the camera, not in the private room, in the separate room for an hour, I hope we don’t miss what was really going on. Because Darren had a great idea. He had a great plan. He wants to help people.
“We should have kept the masks, even though we went in and they’re introducing us. … I was just there trying to support Waller. That’s what me and the guys were trying to do, but that’s the end of that.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.