The Las Vegas Raiders raised a number of eyebrows on Tuesday after photos and videos of several players going maskless at a crowded indoor event started making the rounds.
The maskless players, appearing at a fundraiser for tight end Darren Waller’s foundation, drew some disapproval from Raiders owner Mark Davis, and a investigation from the city that hosted the event.
Among the attendees were Foster Moreau, Jason Witten, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, Nevin Lawson and Derek Carr. That last player addressed the matter on Wednesday, lamenting the coverage of the appearance and trying to draw attention to Waller’s cause.
Derek Carr on Raiders’ maskless appearance
From NBC Sports Bay Area:
"I feel like, one, we've done a fantastic job around here," Carr told reporters. "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.
"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. 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."
It’s worth nothing here that no one here is criticizing Waller’s foundation, or even the team’s appearance at the event. It’s the lack of masks that drew condemnation. The players could have kept their masks on at the event, which reportedly raised over $300,000, and the focus would have stayed on Waller’s laudable efforts to help fight addiction.
But the players didn’t, and it came at an unfortunate time when the NFL ran into its first in-season COVID-19 outbreak, underscoring the gravity of what just one breach of coronavirus protocol can do. Carr complains about so much being made about “a few moments where we slipped up,” but those moments are the NFL’s greatest fear.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, who contracted the virus this summer and once went as far as tricking his players into thinking he had to be hospitalized, told reporters on Wednesday that the matter had been addressed internally, per ESPN.
That might not be the end of it though, as an NFL spokesperson also told ESPN that the league was looking into the matter. DragonRidge Country Club, which hosted the event, was also fined $2,000 by the city of Henderson for four violations of COVID-19 directives.
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