Jul 22, 2022
Paul GutierrezESPN Staff Writer
- Covered Oakland Raiders for CSNBayArea.com and Sacramento Bee for eight years
- Member of Pro Football Writers Association
- Previously worked at Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal and Sports Illustrated
HENDERSON, Nev. — After a season of turmoil, tragedy and an unlikely playoff berth, Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he hoped having to deal with such off-the-field issues was a thing of the past.
Especially with a new regime leading the organization under owner Mark Davis, from president Sandra Douglas Morgan to general manager Dave Ziegler to coach Josh McDaniels.
“I think we’ve had us a good amount of time since all of that went down,” Carr said Friday, in his first media availability of training camp.
“I told you, I couldn’t even comprehend it at the time, I’m a human person — I didn’t get a chance really to feel all of those emotions, and after the season, one day it just hits you like, ‘Wow, dang.’ More so the life transformations for families and for life loss and careers that are done and all that stuff. The real-life part of it hits you because it was so, it happened, and we were right back here to play. There’s so much in your mind, football-wise, that we didn’t really get to comprehend it all.”
Jon Gruden’s email controversy cost the former coach with the 10-year, $100 million contract his job; he resigned Oct. 11. Less than a month later, on Nov. 2, receiver Henry Ruggs III was involved in a fiery high-speed car crash in Las Vegas that claimed the life of a young woman, Tina Tintor, and her dog. Ruggs was released by the team less than 24 hours later.
Later that week, fellow former first-round pick Damon Arnette was cut after the cornerback published video of himself brandishing firearms and making death threats.
Carr said at the time that he dreaded checking his phone upon waking up for fear of seeing more negative news.
Instead, the Raiders went on a four-game winning streak to end the season that let them finish 10-7 and claim the franchise’s first postseason bid since 2016, just its second since 2002. The Raiders lost a heartbreaker at the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round.
Las Vegas, though, made big adds to the roster this offseason with the acquisition of two-time All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and two-time All-Pro edge rusher Chandler Jones, also locking up Pro Bowl defensive MVP Maxx Crosby and Pro Bowl slot receiver Hunter Renfrow to contract extensions.
Carr signed his own extension — for three years and $121.5 million — in June.
“There’s a lot that Derek Carr does every day to give you a lot of confidence in what he can do with your team,” McDaniels said in minicamp. “I don’t know how everybody else rates him. I just know that I feel pretty good about the things that I’m seeing … he’s working really hard. He’s acclimating to some of the new guys.
“He treats everybody the same, which I love. That’s a good sign of a leader. He’s not just going to talk to the guys that are in the first huddle; he talks to everybody at every position — offense, defense, kickers, punters. So, I’ve been very impressed with him.”
Carr said the toughest questions he had to answer last season were about how to handle the off-the-field issues at the time.
“If I’m honest, after the season, I had a couple of days to think about it, really in the summer and things like that,” Carr said. “But then since football [started] and we’ve been talking and grinding on the playbook, it’s just been all football. And that’s been nice.
“I’m glad that, hopefully, hopefully, that stuff is behind us.”