Raiders coach Jon Gruden realizes that, currently, there are much bigger things happening than preparations for football season. He understands that the far bigger priority than winning games is containing COVID-19.
“Hopefully, we can beat the virus,” Gruden told Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com. “The Chiefs are great — unfortunately we have to play them twice — but we got the toughest opponent. . . . We gotta beat this virus, man. You and me and everybody else, and hopefully somebody comes up with a cure soon.”
Apart from the big-picture problems created by the pandemic, Gruden is focused on the things he needs to do to try to turn the third season of his second act with the Raiders into the best so far.
“It’s crazy, you try and prepare for camp, but you just have no idea how it’s going to go,” Gruden told Tafur. “It’s a whole new ballgame right now. We have a new city, a new facility, a new team, new rules. . . . I finally get to meet some of the veteran players [on Tuesday]. We had about 60 minutes of walk-through with the rookies [on Monday] and that’s all the contact I’ve had, other than a bunch of Zoom meetings. . . .
“It’s a tough, tough, tough job right now — and it’s not just football. Humanity is a big part of this, you know what I am saying? Your team, your family, your fans, the city of Las Vegas, the world — you worry about everybody. There is no answer for this. . . . There are safety measures that we’re trying to use, but it’s unprecedented territory for you and me and everybody else.”
He’s right. Every day, the vibe changes. Friday’s cautious optimism melted into mounting pessimism on Monday. The ongoing parade of players opting out, and the sense that more may be coming, underscore that this will be a football season unlike any other.