Raiders try to move on following Henry Ruggs crash
The Raiders’ wide receivers were stationed at the far end of the field. If you squinted, you might have noticed there was one fewer target going out for a pass from Derek Carr.
Her name was Tina Tintor. She was 23 years old, and she died in a fiery crash when a sports car driven by former Raiders star receiver Henry Ruggs slammed into her car from behind in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
Shortly after the victim’s identity was disclosed Wednesday, the Raiders returned to the practice fields at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center. Loud music blared from the speaker system.
“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z, one of my more hip colleagues said.
In four days, the Raiders would be playing the Giants in New York. The music during stretching and calisthenics usually has a connection to that week’s opponent.
Two songs later, the chorus of a tune more familiar — about wanting to “rock ‘n’ roll all night (and party every day)” — resounded across the wide swath of practice green.
On this day, with horrific details about Tintor’s death still emerging — an eyewitness said he could hear her screaming from inside the car — it sounded tone deaf.
Business as usual
When the Raiders broke into their position groups, the quarterbacks and wide receivers were at the far end of the practice field. If you squinted, you might have noticed there was one fewer target going out for passes from Derek Carr.
But other than Ruggs’ number and name having been removed from the roster sheet handout, it seemed like just another day in the NFL — where regardless of what happens off the field, the show upon it must always go on.
Before releasing Ruggs on Tuesday night — the wide receiver is facing charges of DUI resulting in death and reckless driving — the Raiders had issued a statement expressing sympathy for the loss of life and the victim’s family.
When the crash’s gruesome details began to circulate via Twitter and text, banter in the media center, which had been subdued to begin with, ceased and the mood became somber.
The report said that Ruggs’ Corvette was speeding at an almost unfathomable 156 mph on Rainbow Boulevard two seconds before it slammed into the back of a Toyota RAV4 — that, judging from photos taken at the scene, in reality appeared to be a Toyota Prius — at 127 mph.
The Toyota exploded into a ball of flame with Tintor trapped inside.
One witness said he tried to extricate the young woman from the inferno but was overcome by smoke and flames. Another said he was able to grab the victim by the arm before he, too, was forced to yield.
The police report said the driver of the Toyota was traveling with a dog, who also died in the blaze.
After practice, Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia and Carr answered a few questions from the media. Bisaccia began by reading a prepared statement. As usual, Carr spoke extemporaneously and from the heart.
Unlike the music on the practice field, neither came across as tone deaf.
“A person lost their life yesterday morning and we think it’s important to keep focused on that as we talk about this tragic event,” Bisaccia said.
A first season in Las Vegas with spectators that was supposed to be a dream instead has digressed into an off-the-field nightmare. Raiders coach Jon Gruden last month resigned over the use of racist, homophobic and misogynistic language in emails dating to 2010. Before that, team president Marc Badain and other front-office executives stepped down when overpayment of unspecified taxes was discovered.
Yet despite all that, the team is in first place in the AFC West with a record of 5-2.
So even after Carr spoke so eloquently about the tragedy, you knew it would only be a matter of time until somebody wanted to talk about football.
According to the counter on my cell phone tape recorder, priorities remained in their proper place for 5 minutes and 18 seconds until somebody who obviously had not read the grisly police report about Tintor’s death inquired about the team’s frame of mind heading into Sunday’s game against the Giants.
“From a football aspect, we’re ready to go,” the Raiders’ quarterback said. “We had a great practice.”
Contact Ron Kantowski at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.