Raiders QB Derek Carr responds to viral rumor


Raiders QB Derek Carr responds to viral rumor

ALAMEDA – Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was the subject of some unflattering rumors on Tuesday morning. Teammates swiftly came to his defense on social media, shutting down an inflammatory, incorrect story spread by a controversial Internet radio show host married to an NFL player.

On Wednesday, the topic fell at Carr’s feet.


Some background:

The host, repeating a story told by a Raiders fan on her podcast, said Carr demanded his teammates stand during the national anthem prior to a Sept. 24 game in Washington, the Sunday night contest following anti-NFL-player statements made by President Trump. The host then claimed that there was a pregame argument in the Raiders locker room over that issue, and, here's the kicker, that the Raiders offensive line intentionally allowed Derek Carr to get hit and eventually hurt.

Since we here at NBC Sports Bay Area aren’t in the business of spreading rumors, here’s a quick synopsis of what happened, according to team sources on and off the record. It was also written in large part here. The Raiders planned to stay in the locker room for the anthem -- there was a spirited discussion, with opinions from several levels of the organization, the night before -- as many other teams did in response to Trump’s comments on NFL anthem protests.

Logistics of Sunday Night Football’s unique pregame schedule took that option away. The Raiders tried to work out a different plan on the fly, and there was some disagreement on how to handle the new situation as a unit. That wasn’t resolved during the limited discussion time before an important game. That’s why you saw groups protesting in different ways. The offensive line and most Raiders defenders sat with arms locked. Others chose to kneel. Carr was among several who stood. The team’s unquestioned leader and franchise quarterback prayed during the anthem near other teammates who sat and stood. At no point did Carr tell anyone what to do.

Then the Raiders got outplayed, outschemed and outcoached by an energetic, determined Washington football club. That was it. They lost a football game they wanted to win. End of story.

Carr suffered transverse process fractures in his back the following week at Denver on a freak play where he was awkwardly wrenched to the ground and kneed in the back by a Broncos defensive lineman. Every Raiders offensive linemen immediately huddled around him, and left  tackle Donald Penn looked concerned as he walked with Carr toward the sideline. 


Back to present day:

This false theory was originally discussed by a non-sports radio show in Sacramento shortly after the Washington game saying the line allowed him to get hit, but it didn’t become a mainstream topic until players reacted to Tuesday’s rehashing by the aforementioned Internet radio host.

This rumor gone viral came up during Carr’s Wednesday bye-week press conference.

A reporter asked if a Bible verse he posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon – "Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything." Proverbs 13:3, NLT -- was a response to the rumor.

“I know you have to ask. That has nothing to do with what was said,” Carr said told the inquiring reporter. “I don’t give false claims any due. If you see anything (on my Twitter timeline), you see I post a lot of scriptures. You can ask anyone about the YouVersion Bible app; that was the scripture of the day and I just posted it.”

Fans immediately thought the post and story were connected.

“Everyone started saying ‘shade,’ this and all that. I’m bigger than that,” Carr said. “I don’t pay any mind to that kind of stuff because it detours. Making false claims about somebody before you know them, and about a group of guys, that has no business in our world. We’re trying to promote peace and love. I don’t think that has any place.”

Several players immediately shot down the story on Tuesday, including Penn.

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice


Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing


Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”