Derek Carr: Jon Gruden’s visit made sense because I played my best football for him
Back in May, the Saints brought in former Raiders coach Jon Gruden to work with the offense during the offseason program.
Of course, Gruden and now New Orleans quarterback Derek Carr spent several years together in Oakland and Las Vegas with their former organization. This week, Carr said he thought it was valuable to have Gruden come into the building from several standpoints.
“I mean, it makes sense. I played my best football for him,” Carr said in his press conference. “So if anybody — trust me, I spent a lot of time with him. And so if anybody knows me, knows things about me that I don’t know, he would know it.
"[The Saints coaches] can ask questions that I can’t answer. How’s Derek react after this? I think I’m going to answer it right, but ‘Gru’ will tell the truth.”
Carr added that it was fun to see two of his head coaches from the Raiders — Gruden and Dennis Allen — communicate in the same room. The quarterback said they saw football the same way, which aided that process.
“Everyone’s ideas make sense to each other. Everyone’s receiving ideas, even if it’s new,” Carr said. “And it was just kind of cool to sit there and enjoy the time, enjoy being around each other.”
But Carr also enjoyed the visit from Gruden because, as he explained it, he loves his former head coach.
“I can’t express enough how much I love coach Gruden. He’s family to me,” Carr said. “When all that stuff happened, it was hard for me because you’re mad, you’re frustrated. But you don’t stop loving him, you know? I love that man and what he’s meant to me in my career — I played my best football with him. And I admire him. I’ve seen him around his kids, I’ve seen him around Cindy, his wife.
“I know who he is and I love him deeply like family. So, I can’t express to you how much he means to me and how hard of a time that was for me, when all that stuff was happening.”
Gruden abruptly resigned his position as Raiders head coach on Oct. 11, 2021, after racist, homophobic, and misogynistic emails he’d sent years before became public.
“The fact that I got to see him again, give him a hug — it was like he was saying something, I’m finishing this sentence, all this kind of stuff it just comes back just like that,” Carr continued. “He was like, ‘What was this play?’ and I could spit it out just like it was yesterday. What could’ve been — you think about those times, what could’ve been and all that kind of stuff. But, thankful to be here and thankful that I got to see him wearing our colors. Neither of us thought a couple years ago that we’d be doing that, but here we are.”
Carr added that he didn’t really get to process much of what Gruden’s resignation meant in the moment. But the two were neighbors in Las Vegas and there were times when Carr would go to Gruden’s house and visit with him.
“During that, I was like, I have two choices: I can either be mad about it, or I can choose to love him,” Carr said. “And yes, I can be mad at certain things that were said, or certain things that were done, or decisions that were made. But at the end of the day, it didn’t really matter. My choice was, I was going to love him. If no one else was, I was going to love him.
“And so, I just tried to — even when things aren’t perfect, you still try. At least I try my best to continue to love the people I’m called to love and give them everything that I have. So it didn’t necessarily change. I just knew that he wasn’t my coach at that time anymore. And that was hard.”
The Raiders finished that season 10-7 and went to the postseason, falling to the Bengals in the Wild Card round. But the club had an unsuccessful 2022 under Josh McDaniels, which led to Carr’s release and subsequent decision to sign with the Saints.