If Oakland Raiders fans weren’t pained enough by the team’s decision to trade star pass-rusher Khalil Mack, things got worse Sunday night. Then, they got even worse on Monday. After Mack excelled in his debut with the Chicago Bears during a primetime matchup, less than a day later some eye-opening news came to light.
As NBC Sports revealed, Mack told Cris Collinsworth that if Raiders coach Jon Gruden had called him, it may have kept him in town.
Mack filled up the box score for the Bears Sunday, totaling three tackles, one sack, one interception returned for a touchdown and one fumble recovery. That performance enough was to make Raiders fans want to pull their hair out, but hearing Mack confirm that Gruden didn’t reach out to him? That was just icing on a very terrible cake.
Following rumblings that Gruden and Mack didn’t speak from the time the coach was hired back in January all the way through the star’s holdout, this news certainly stings. And during a recent interview, Gruden didn’t do much to put the drama surrounding the Mack trade to rest.
As he told NFL on ESPN, “Mack didn’t want to play” for the Raiders.
“Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here. That’s what’s being missed here. He was under contract, Lisa, you know he was under contract. He never showed up for an OTA, he never showed up for training camp and it was obvious he wasn’t going to show up for the season, so don’t forget that. We have to get ready to play, and I want players that want to be here, that want to help us put this thing back in high gear.” Gruden stated.
Regardless of how you look at it, the situation between Mack and the Raiders during the holdout was ugly and never progressed forward. While the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year likely would have felt appreciated if his coach had made the phone call, it’s unknown if it would have made up for the financial differences.
The two sides simply never seemed close on a potential contract, so aside from hurt feelings, there likely wasn’t much harm done from Gruden’s decision.