All around the NFL, teams are doing everything they can to preach coronavirus safety to players as they prepare for a season that hinges on them staying safe from the ongoing pandemic.
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden reportedly decided to take things a step further.
Jon Gruden’s COVID-19 trick
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Gruden decided to play a somewhat dirty trick on his players during a routine team Zoom call last week. As players logged on, they were greeted by assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia instead of Gruden.
Bisaccia gave the players some bad news: Gruden was in the hospital with COVID-19. After some apparently shocked reactions from the players, the team then revealed the whole thing had been a ruse.
One more on the #Raiders from Inside Training Camp on @nflnetwork: Jon Gruden's attempt to "crush" COVID-19 included assistant Rich Bisaccia tricking the players into thinking Gruden had coronavirus. But it wasn't a mean-spirited prank. There was a serious message behind it. pic.twitter.com/I832Zy5g2a
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 5, 2020
Bisaccia told them ‘Guys, coach Gruden has COVID and he’s at the hospital now and he’s being taken care of.’ The players were taken aback. ‘Whoa.’ They shortly thereafter told them ‘You know what? We’re just putting you on a little bit.’ It wasn’t a joke. What it was was the team illustrating to the players that this could happen at any moment, to anybody.
So, basically, Gruden took a page out of the “Arrested Development” school of teaching lessons. Was it manipulative? Maybe. Is it surprising to see that it’s Jon Gruden doing this? Absolutely not.
Garafalo noted the trick came a couple days before Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson became the second NFL head coach to test positive for the coronavirus. New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton was the first all the way back in March.
Raiders not seeing many cases, stadium another story
Whether or not Gruden’s plan was effective, the Raiders so far haven’t seen too many COVID-19 cases in training camp. Only one player, running back Devontae Booker, landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list following the team’s first wave of testing. Three other players — Ukeme Eligwe, D.J. Killings and Jeremiah Valoaga — have opted out of the season.
However, the team’s new $2 billion stadium, the recently completed Allegiant Stadium, saw more than a few cases as construction was completed. The project had 16 workers test positive as of May 1, a number that may have gone up in the months since.
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