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Derek Carr downplays his COVID-19 protocol breach

Mike Florio and Charean Williams discuss the NFL warning teams and coaches of suspensions for not wearing masks and how coaches set an example for their players and teams by practicing proper protocols.

On Monday night, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and several other teammates attended an event that had too many people at an indoor setting with no masks in sight. On Tuesday, the incident came to light. On Wednesday, Carr addressed his behavior.

“I feel like, one, we’ve done a fantastic job around here,” Carr told reporters, via Josh Shrock of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I hate that a few moments without our masks on led to a story about our team and all this kind of stuff, especially after the fines that were brought on a couple of weeks ago. We felt terrible about that. We addressed it with coach and we talked with our trainers about what really went down and all that kind of stuff. At the end of the day we were there -- I mean, shoot guys, I’ve been having dinner and dates with my wife at my house. I haven’t taken her out to eat all season, you know? There’s a lot of kids running around my house and I think she’s ready for a date night.”

Hey, Derek, plenty of people haven’t taken their spouses out to dinner, since March. And you’ve got the money to have gourmet meals brought to your brand-new mansion in Las Vegas every night, and to eat after you put the kids to bed. So if you’re truly serious about avoiding the virus for the full extent of football season, you make the sacrifice (if it’s even a “sacrifice” to have gourmet meals delivered to your brand-new Las Vegas mansion) and stay home.

As to the notion that it was just “a few moments without our masks” that created the story, where’s the video of Carr and his teammates wearing masks? In the videos that came to light, where’s the mask that otherwise would be hanging around his neck or chin, which usually happens when someone who is otherwise wearing a mask takes a break from doing so?

“We’ve been doing our very best and we had a few moments where we slipped up, took the masks off so people could see our face and stuff like that,” Carr said. “We signed waivers, hand sanitizer like crazy. All this kind of stuff, we tried our best even at the event. We weren’t perfect but we were trying our best. We weren’t trying to be careless and reckless. But at the same time, Darren Waller had 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 people with addiction to get them in the right place. My hope and my prayer is that a few moments of us messing up, a few minutes here where we were seen on camera, not in the private room in the separate room for an hour, things like that. I hope we don’t lose what was really going on there. Because Darren had a great idea, a great plan. He wants to help people and I hope that we can more so put the conversation that way. Again, we’ve addressed it in house. We should have kept the mask on even if they are introducing us and things like that. But at the end of the day, I hope the story is more about what Darren is trying to accomplish.”

That’s all fine, but plenty of worthy charitable causes haven’t been conducting in-person fundraising events that violate local rules and basic guidelines since the pandemic started. Fundraising for those charities must happen in other ways.

The bigger question is how did the event even get scheduled with so many players present without someone in the Raiders organization knowing about it and raising a red flag? The vibe created by most NFL teams since training camp began was that players would dramatically curtail their off-duty activities in order to limit potential exposure to the virus. The fact that Carr and other Raiders players would be seen so casually and nonchalantly in a setting that clearly contradicts the letter and spirit of the protocols is, frankly, stunning.

And, yes, I’m being harder on Carr than other players because he’s the leader of the team, or at least he should be acting like it. If he’s going to do stupid, selfish things, why should we expect any of the other players to not do stupid, selfish things?

Making Carr’s conduct even more stupid is the fact that he has the most to lose of any of his teammates. With a salary of $18.9 million, each game not played by the Raiders this year would cost him $1.11 million in lost wages.