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Mark Davis is home as Raiders open bizarre training camp

Updated July 29, 2020 - 10:48 am

Mark Davis awoke Tuesday morning, looked around and was home in Las Vegas.

“I spent the last three days moving out of my house in Oakland,” the Raiders’ owner said. “The same house I have been in since (the team) moved back from Los Angeles in 1995. Lots of memories and pictures while packing stuff up. It was emotional.

“But I’m so excited to finally know that I am here full time.”

Welcome to Bizarro World. Even more than usual.

And here you thought hot air balloon rides and frozen feet and helmet issues were the craziest happenings that could define a Raiders training camp.

We’re not in Napa any more, Toto.

Is it possible things could be even stranger than wide receiver Antonio Brown’s short stay with the team as it prepared for the 2019 season? Yes. There are now daily nose swabs.

Fancy wristbands

This isn’t what anyone expected when training camp commenced for the Raiders. Las Vegas might have its NFL team and yet nothing has been or will be ordinary for some time. Brown’s disturbing behavior from this time last year isn’t comparable to COVID-19. It sort of makes his situation appear standard. Sort of. Not really.

Things might be buzzing at the team’s Henderson practice facility, but odds are that’s just folks testing those fancy Kinexon wristbands, a tracking device that warns users when the minimum physical distance to another person is compromised.

I can see it now. Derek Carr returns home from practice, attempts to hug his wife and children and a sensor is activated. Within minutes, team security is knocking at the door to immediately transport the quarterback to some undisclosed location (a suite at the M Resort Spa Casino?) for quarantine.

These guys are an ankle bracelet away from house arrest. Hello, new normal.

This is how second-year wide receiver Hunter Renfrow described his feelings Monday night via Twitter: Sitting here on the eve of camp with jitters like I’m about to play a game!! All I have tomorrow is a Covid test and zoom meeting …

“We’re the Raiders, so this is kind of normal for us,” Davis said. “Thank God we have a beautiful facility to work out in.”

It’s a different time than when his father owned the franchise. Yet it’s not as if Al Davis wasn’t involved in a myriad of controversies while taking on countless challenges. When a legacy includes shaping the modern NFL, your influence touched most issues that define a league’s history. None of which were similar to the coronavirus.

“I have always said there are two viruses we are dealing with right now — social injustice and a global pandemic,” Mark Davis said. “(Al Davis) could have handled the social part. It wasn’t so much talking but doing for him. I hope to follow in his footstep there as well. I have said some things publicly, and we’re also trying to get some things accomplished.

“The virus would be something that would concern him. He felt he could dominate anything except maybe life and death. I do know he would have been calling every doctor in the country and person trying to come up with an answer for it, that’s for sure.”

Just like baseball?

None are here yet, which is why the Raiders and 31 other NFL teams began training camp with the edict that players must test negative for the virus twice in a 72-hour period. And while some are choosing to opt out of the season — Bill Belichick might have to play if any more Patriots do — the Raiders have yet to announce any who selected the option.

Things are already a mess in baseball, where the Marlins had their season suspended through the weekend amid an outbreak of positive tests. Also, the Phillies had an entire four-game series with the Yankees canceled. Players across the league are understandably anxious.

It screams that football, with its contact and physicality, should remain judicious in testing and tracing. What should have been an exciting time for teams Tuesday was instead about face masks (not the kind attached to a helmet) and swabs.

Las Vegas has its NFL team, but the beginning was nothing like we imagined.

Wackier than Antonio Brown. Now that’s crazy.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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