The Las Vegas Raiders are set to deal with an unprecedented issue as head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign on Monday after a litany of controversial emails were leaked by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. The team is 3-2 and only a game out of the top spot in the AFC West. With a matchup against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Raiders players don’t have the luxury of hanging their heads right now.
Players have mostly stayed silent on the Gruden scandal as the front office and coaching staff scramble but three of the team’s captains decided to speak out on Wednesday. The first to address the matter was quarterback Derek Carr, who was clearly emotional about the whole situation.
“A lot of emotions, obviously didn’t see all of this coming,” Carr said Wednesday. “I don’t think any of us did, it just caught us all by surprise. There will be a day and a time for all those feelings, but from an emotional standpoint I’ve got a job to do and that’s never changed. No matter who the coach is no matter who’s on the team with me. I have a job to do and that is to lead these men. Especially now, they need a leader more than ever.”
Carr didn’t go after the coach too hard but did have a major issue with the language that was used in the emails.
“Y’all know me, I don’t condone that kind of talk, I don’t talk that way. My kids, sure as heck will never talk that way,” Carr said. “It’s hard because I love the man so much. I have family members that have done things, I’ve done things, that I’m glad I’m still loved. I think more than anything [Gruden] needs people to help him. To love him. In whatever areas that we can. But at the same time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong.”
The relationship between Gruden and Carr has been at the forefront of the Raiders for years. Last season was the first time the two felt fully in sync and Carr has been playing some of the best football of his career. All that progress now goes up in smoke as the quarterback will have to adjust to whoever ends up being his coach going forward.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Darren Waller Speaks Out
It would be easy for players to pile on Gruden right now. This scandal could derail what has looked like a promising season thus far. However, the Raiders players aren’t ready to go after Gruden too hard. Star tight end Darren Waller would prefer to help the coach than kick him while he’s down.
“I want to offer somebody grace and allow them to learn from what they may have done and that’s what I’m trying to do right now for coach,” Waller said
Waller has dealt with much more serious adversity over the course of his career but there’s no doubt this development still stings. Gruden was the Raiders and was a big reason why Waller has become a superstar in the NFL. Unfortunately, the coach’s personal prejudices may have derailed his football career.
Maxx Crosby Chimes In
Gruden was all about offense and that wasn’t a secret. He let the defense do their thing while he focused on scripting plays and working with the quarterbacks. Despite that, he was still respected by players on the defense. We’ve already seen cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker K.J. Wright come out in support of Gruden.
Defensive end Maxx Crosby didn’t get into the nitty-gritty of what the coach actually said but he did express the tough situation this puts the team in.
“Being a leader on this team, the last 48-hours have been tough,” Crosby said. “It’s not like this is happening at the end of the season, we still have 12 games left.”
The season doesn’t stop for the Raiders and they have to keep chugging along. This is one of the toughest situations a team can be put in during a season. It will be telling how the Raiders respond on Sunday.