The Raiders’ trip north of the border turned into a circus when field conditions in Winnipeg, Alberta, forced rule alterations for the third preseason game.
It was no surprise the spectacle turned into a focal point of this week’s episode of “Hard Knocks,” the fourth of the five-part series.
There was also a continuation of the infatuation with undrafted rookie Keelan Doss and maligned quarterback Nathan Peterman.
Here are five takeaways from the HBO episode:
1. Gruden’s love of Peterman real
Every time coach Jon Gruden takes the time to rave about how impressed he has been with his backup quarterback, the social media jokes from national pundits and fans alike commence.
It’s clearly not just lip service, though.
A frustrated Gruden is captured on the sideline during the game against the Packers in Canada calling for Peterman to enter the game.
He indicates to his staff on the headset that he knows he’s higher on Peterman than others in the organization.
“I think the guy’s a better player than you guys (do),” he said. “I’d like to see him.”
Peterman leads a comeback victory over the Packers and Gruden is downright giddy with the result.
2. Raiders fine with field conditions
After the game in Winnipeg, Gruden said he thought it would have been just fine to go ahead with the game as normal.
His comments appeared to suggest it was only the Packers who had a problem with the conditions in one end zone that forced the game to be played on a hastily modified 80-yard field.
Footage shown on “Hard Knocks” appears to back him up.
During a conversation with Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Gruden questions all the hubbub.
“It’s fine with us,” he says before cracking a joke about it not quite being as smooth as the surface at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
3. Drake is huge in Canada
OK, anyone paying attention to pop culture already knows this.
But Raiders tight end Luke Willson, a native of Canada, took the statement to a whole new level during Tuesday’s episode.
In the midst of teammates mocking him about Canada and whether cars drive on the right or left side of the street and how financial transactions are handled, Willson is probed about whether Drake or comedian Mike Myers can get away with more north of the border due to their celebrity.
He immediately answers Drake. In fact, Willson says the success of the Toronto Raptors and Drake’s involvement with the team may have even pushed him ahead of hockey great Wayne Gretzky in the hearts of Canadians.
4. Carr, Brown wanted to play
The Raiders sat almost every starter against the Packers. Most of them didn’t make the trip.
Derek Carr and Antonio Brown were in attendance and got in some work on the field before the game.
Then they lobbied Gruden for a chance to suit up, though they knew there was almost zero chance of it happening.
Carr and Brown pitched the coach on allowing them to take the field for one play to try to connect on a go route.
Gruden said he would think about it before pausing for a split second and responding with an immediate “no.”
5. Gruden is always working
The episode concludes with a visit to a local gym where Gruden’s son Jayson, an aspiring Muay Thai fighter, is getting in a pad session.
As he watches his son’s hands get wrapped before the workout, Gruden has an idea.
He asks his son and the trainer whether someone would still be able to fully utilize their hands with the wraps on and snaps a picture of the tape job before requesting his son try to grab him by the shirt to prove the functionality.
Gruden says he will send the photo of his son’s hands to rookie defensive lineman Maxx Crosby, who is looking for a way to play through his hand injury.
He’s never very far away from the field.