Updated August 5, 2022 - 5:40 am
CANTON, Ohio — Just under 30 minutes before the Raiders were to kick off against the Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday, a severe thunderstorm rolled into town and forced the game to be delayed.
Simultaneously, the Raiders and Jaguars both retreated from the field to their locker rooms and fans were urged to seek shelter.
At the height of the storm, Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler stood in the press box of Tom Benson Stadium, watched the rain and lightning show unfolding in front of him and smiled.
“I’ve seen this a few times,” Ziegler said.
Ziegler, like Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, is an Ohio native. In fact, McDaniels played high school football under his father, Thom, at the stadium where the Hall of Fame game is played. Ziegler grew up 26 miles away in Tallmadge and eventually crossed paths with McDaniels at John Carroll University in University Heights, where they both played football.
Needless to say, Ziegler and McDaniels are well accustomed to the erratic weather patterns of a Midwestern summer. Hence the knowing smile from Ziegler on his homecoming to Ohio.
The game was officially delayed 40 minutes.
Everyone’s journey to the NFL is different, and for a pair of backup quarterback candidates for the Raiders and Jaguars, their paths crossed in a very unusual way. That includes the intersection that occurred on Thursday when the Raiders and Jaguars played each other in the Hall of Fame game.
Back in 2013, Nick Mullens of the Raiders and Kyle Sloter of the Jaguars were teammates at Southern Mississippi. Sloter had committed to play at Tulane out of high school, but when Tulane assistant coach Rickey Bustle was named the offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi, Sloter followed him there.
But after redshirting in 2012, with the hope of competing for a starting job the following season, Sloter was dealt a blow when Southern Miss coach Ellis Johnson was fired and Bustle soon moved on to North Carolina AT&T.
The coaching change pushed Sloter further down on the depth chart, and in an attempt to simply get on the field he convinced new coach Todd Monken to give him a shot at wide receiver.
Sloter ended up catching five passes that season, including one touchdown.
That is where Mullens, who is competing with Jarrett Stidham and Chase Garbers for the backup quarterback role behind Derek Carr, comes in.
Mullens won the starting quarterback role, and with 56 seconds remaining in a blowout loss to Louisiana Tech, connected with Sloter on an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Ironically, Southern Mississippi ended up pulling Sloter’s scholarship a year later. He eventually moved on to Northern Colorado and back to quarterback, where he played well enough to earn a shot with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent.
Mullens remained at Southern Mississippi and has played parts of four seasons with the 49ers and Browns. The Raiders signed him as a free agent during the offseason.
Both Mullens and Sloter played on Thursday in the Hall of Fame game.
Waller, Jones not on trip
While a big contingent of Raiders made the trek to Ohio this week, neither defensive Chandler Jones nor tight end Darren Waller made the trip. Both remained home in Las Vegas nursing undisclosed injuries.