Updated October 13, 2021 - 4:22 pm
The official process of moving on from Jon Gruden’s sudden resignation began in earnest on Wednesday for the Raiders. It began with a team meeting overseen by owner Mark Davis, general manager Mike Mayock and interim head coach Rich Bisaccia.
By the end of the meeting, players had a better understanding of the timeline and decision making of the last few days, information on coping resources the team has made available for players and, finally, the vision Bisaccia has for putting the saga behind them and getting back to the business at hand.
Including the process of preparing for their game in Denver on Sunday against the Broncos.
Davis was not made available to the media. But in a brief exchange with an ESPN reporter early on Wednesday, when asked about the Gruden situation, he said, “I have no comment. Ask the NFL, they have all the answers.”
In the cold, calculating world of professional sports, it always goes back to the next game, the next challenge. And while Davis, Mayock and Bisaccia are cognizant of the mental toll the last five days have taken on their players, it was also important to shift the focus back to football.
No matter how difficult it is personally.
“It is tough,” Raiders tight end Darren Waller said. “Over the past couple days, I have a lot of emotions going through all this, and then it’s like, yeah, I’ve got to prepare for a team that happens to have a really talented defense. So yeah, it is a lot on our plate, but guys are speaking out and recognizing it is OK to be a little stressed. It is OK to be, man, like, what is this? It’s not normal, it’s not something that happens every day.”
And yet the show must go on.
“The mission, all that, stays the same,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said.
In some ways, that was the takeaway from Wednesday’s meeting. Regardless of the drama unfolding or the controversy still swirling over Gruden’s emails, the season is really just getting started and the Raiders are very much in the thick of things.
”The thing that’s unique to us is we have a good team,” Bisaccia said. “It’s not like we’ve gone through some type of a bad cycle and all of a sudden there’s been a change and it’s the end of the season and the season’s over. We have 12 games. We feel like we have a lot of time. We feel like all our goals are in front of us.”
That meant trying to put the Gruden saga in the rearview mirror and adjust to life with a new leader in place. With 12 games left in the season, there really is no other choice.
“It’s not easy, but this is part of it,” Crosby said.
That was the constant message being delivered.
“Bottom line is, we’re 3-2, Week 6,” Mayock said. “A lot of these interim head coach deals over these years, it’s like Week 15 and guys are already packing their bags. That’s not the case here. All of our goals are ahead of us. 3-2.”
By the time players were given a chance to speak in the meeting, Mayock said he began detecting a consensus. It jibed with the countless individual conversations he’s had with players over the last few days.
“The common denominator from the players has been focus and professionalism,” Mayock said. “That’s what I’ve gotten back from them. We’ve worked too hard, we’ve put too much into this. We believe in Rich and we’re going forward, we’re moving forward.”
Carr sensed the same thing.
“We’re definitely focused on football,” he said. “Are conversations still happening? Absolutely. Another part of my job, as a leader here, is to make sure everybody is OK. And I gotta check on guys if I see a certain look on their face and make sure they’re OK. And so, there are those conversations.
“But as a whole, the focus is on winning. We had great meetings. We had a great practice. Full of energy, competition. It was great.”
In spite of the cloud that continually hovers above.
“When you walk around, sit in the meal room, it’s hard. It’s the biggest story in sports right now, honestly,” Carr said. “And that’s what we talk about. You turn the TV on, and that’s what’s on. You do your best to stay focused when it’s time to focus.”
Who: Raiders at Denver Broncos
When: 1:25 p.m. Sunday
Where: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver
Line: Broncos -3.5; total 44.5