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Hill: Derek Carr downplays revenge game against Raiders

One would think Derek Carr has purchased a bunch of extra calendars just to keep circling Dec. 29 over and over.

That’s the day the veteran quarterback and his Saints teammates will host the Raiders in New Orleans.

Carr, however, downplayed the significance of the occasion when he appeared on Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast this week.

“It will be fun to go against those guys, but it won’t be like a very emotional week for me,” Carr said.

LOL.

‘There’s no hatred’

Carr was unceremoniously dumped by the only professional organization he ever knew before last season via the professional football equivalent of a breakup text.

Whether you want to believe Carr’s assertion that he was basically asked to stay away from the facility for the final two weeks of the 2022 campaign or the more likely scenario that Carr decided to leave on his own, it was far from a fitting end to nearly a decade as the face of the Raiders that included a rewriting of the franchise record books.

It’s tough to believe Carr’s assertion that Week 17 will be just another game as he lines up across from the Silver and Black uniforms he became synonymous with for much of his career, especially after the Raiders decided to put the first quarterback they selected after Carr left (Aidan O’Connell) into his familiar No. 4 jersey.

But on closer review, he is right when he says a lot of the venom has been removed from the eagerly anticipated matchup.

“Because of (Antonio Pierce) being the head coach,” Carr said of what cooled the tensions. “I love him. He was great to me, and I enjoyed my time with him. It’s because he’s the head coach and there are different people in the building. I know Aidan and I love Aidan. Davante (Adams) is one of my best friends. Maxx (Crosby), same thing. These are like my real friends. So there’s no hatred.”

It’s really not fair to speak for an athlete, but I feel comfortable enough with this one to offer a translation: This would be a whole lot different if Josh McDaniels were still in charge of the Raiders.

Which is why Carr’s downplaying of the game’s significance actually does carry a bit of weight.

He is still in Las Vegas often. He remains close with several players. Chances are there are still some pirate logos in his closet. Carr probably still knows the words to “The Autumn Wind.”

And would you really be that surprised if he still owned a Raiders-themed dartboard? If so, McDaniels face may serve as the bull’s-eye.

That relationship still remains the one that appeared to deteriorate to the point the differences were irreconcilable.

That didn’t mean it was easy to pack his belongings and move out.

“It was really hard,” Carr said. “With the relationship I had with Mark and the team, I thought I was going to be there forever. It didn’t work out that way, obviously. But when I went to put a new jersey on, I was like, ‘My pants aren’t silver anymore.’ It looked weird. It didn’t feel right. I had relationships with everyone from the owner to the janitor in the Raiders’ building. You come into a new building and I’m learning everyone’s name and where do I go for stretch and who sits here? I don’t want to take Cam Jordan’s seat Day 1, things like that.”

‘Just going to be weird’

But both sides were able to move on. Carr started to feel more at home as the 2023 season wore on, and even O’Connell elected to switch numbers out of respect to Carr after McDaniels left.

“Even Raider Nation, I love,” Carr said. “I sign Raiders jerseys and hats everywhere I go, still. Their love for me has been unbelievable even since I left. I have people all the time saying they still root for me, that they watch my games and then the Raiders games. So that to me, there’s no ‘I hate these guys’ kind of rivalry. It’s just going to be weird. It will feel like a practice because I’m so used to seeing them on defense. But this time it counts.”

If he forgets that, Crosby will remind him.

“One thing I know about Maxx is he’s a psychopath, and he’s going to want to rip my head off,” Carr laughed. “But he’s still one of my best friends. He bought me this diamond No. 4 chain for Christmas. I bought him a 98 silver and black chain. We’re good friends, but I know Maxx and we used to yell at each other even in practice.”

Carr said he may even wear that chain the week of the game.

He probably won’t be sporting any reminders of McDaniels.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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