Raiders won’t make playoffs, but made it through the season in a pandemic

The Raiders will finish the regular season Sunday along with 31 other NFL teams.
Going into the final game in Denver needing a win to finish 8-8 is not what anyone had in mind, but there’s at least some minor consolation in finishing a season that appeared in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When teams reported to a training camp in late July, they were greeted by daily testing, strict and evolving protocols and the dilemma of trying to avoid a contagious and potentially deadly virus transferred through the air in a sport in which the whole concept of social distancing is foreign.
“At the beginning, it looked like there was no chance we’d even play football this year,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “The fact that we got to play, I’m super thankful we got to this point. Hopefully we can finish with a win this time in Denver.”
The Raiders had meetings in separate rooms, conducted much of their work through Zoom video conference and were not allowed to leave the area during days off or bye weeks. Even media members attending practice received coronavirus tests before they were excluded late in the season.
Coach Jon Gruden consistently supported NFL efforts to “crush the virus,” even making a T-shirt with the slogan, yet it was the Raiders who ran afoul of in the league’s eyes of violating protocols. For violations cited during the first eight week of the season, the organization, Gruden and players received approximately $1.2 million in fines.
Included were the following:
— A $250,000 fine to the organization and $100,000 to Gruden for failure wear masks properly in Week 2 against the Saints. New Orleans’ Sean Payton and the 49ers Kyle Shanahan also received fines that week. There was also a $50,000 fine for an unauthorized individual in the locker room following the Saints game.
— Raiders tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and several teammates including Carr were fined $15,000 when video showed they weren’t wearing masks at an October fundraiser for Waller’s foundation.
— A $500,000 fine to the organization and $150,000 to Gruden for violations stemming from a positive test from right tackle Trent Brown and his failure to wear a mandated tracking device utilized for contact tracing The fines were increased because of the previous violations. The Raiders were also docked a sixth-round draft pick in 2021.
Raiders owner Mark Davis told this news organization on Nov. 6 he considered the measures “draconian” and said all fines had been appealed except the $50,000 for the unauthorized presence in the locker room. The NFL never announced any of the fines — they were leaked instead to platforms such as Yahoo Sports, ESPN and the NFL Network — nor does it confirm the end result of the appeals process.
The entire Raiders home season was played without fans in attendance, and no team allowed more than 25 percent capacity, rending fan interaction a non-factor.
On the field, the Raiders were hit harder than most, requiring 33 separate transactions involving the COVID-19 reserve list for players who either tested positive or were in close proximity with those who tested positive. Only the Baltimore Ravens, with 40, have had more.
Following the bye week in the week preceding a 45-20 loss to Tampa Bay, the Raiders lost their entire offensive line and safety Johnathan Abram for a week of practice as a result of Brown’s positive test. Going in to their rematch against Kansas City, a 35-31 defeat, several defensive players couldn’t practice because of a positive test by defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr warms up before the Raiders game against the Miami Dolphins. A.P. Photo
The Tampa Bay game was moved from Sunday night kickoff to Sunday afternoon to insure a national TV game in case of postponement, but the Raiders had no other issues regarding schedule as other teams wound up playing on different days or different weeks.
The Raiders at least never lost their quarterback, The Broncos lost all their quarterbacks for a Nov. 29 game against New Orleans and lost 31-3 with Kendall Hinton at quarterback. Hinton is a fringe wide receiver who had played quarterback in high school.
“Back in late June and early July, I wasn’t sure if we would have a season,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said in a teleconference. “But then once we got through training camp, I was very optimistic that we would be able to do it. Obviously there’s been some potholes along the road to get to this point. Some teams have experienced more than others.”
Said Gruden: “It’s not equitable, it’s not always fair, but I really compliment all hands on deck for really doing everything possible to give us a season and give us a chance.”
Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson was so unsure there would be a season it affected his residence in Las Vegas.
“A few people in my family stayed in California so that my kids could finish high school up there,” Olson said.  I did not find a place to live, initially, because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. So, I stayed in a hotel for really the first 12 weeks. I had no idea we’d be able to make it.”
Raiders tight end Jason Witten said coaches and players needed to make adjustments on a daily basis to get through it.
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“It’s been a challenge for the entire country, not just the NFL,” Witten said. “I think for the coaches, they had to be willing to adjust and adapt and I thought they did a really good job, really the entire league. it’s been a challenge.”
Defensive end Vic Beasley, who began the season with the Tennessee Titans before being released and signed by the Raiders, wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Honestly, I was 50-50 and unsure, didn’t know what was going to take place,:” Beasley said. “The season happened. We had to improvise in a lot of ways. But every team, every individual had to deal with COVID. Just make the most out of the situation that you’re in.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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