NFL fines Raiders, Jon Gruden, takes draft pick for repeated COVID-19 violations

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NFL fines Raiders, Jon Gruden, takes draft pick for repeated COVID-19 violations


HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders have been fined $500,000 and stripped of a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft and coach Jon Gruden has been fined an additional $150,000 by the NFL for what one source described to ESPN as “brazen and repeated violations of [COVID-19] protocols.”

This came after the Raiders had already been docked $250,000 and Gruden $100,000 for his not wearing a mask properly during the team’s Week 2 home opener, and the team was fined an additional $50,000 for allowing a non-credentialed employee access to the locker room following that game.

Also, tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and nine teammates, including quarterback Derek Carr, were dinged $15,000 each for appearing Oct. 5 at a Waller Foundation charity event maskless and mixing with the crowd.

In total, Las Vegas has racked up $1.185 million in fines for breaking COVID-19 protocols, and the Raiders are the first team to lose a draft pick over the violations.

Neither Gruden, who said he had the virus this summer, nor owner Mark Davis — who told ESPN in late September, “Guys have to be more stringent in fighting the virus; it’s still our toughest opponent.” — responded immediately for comment, though Gruden is scheduled to speak to the media on Friday.

Yahoo Sports first reported the punishments Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown tested positive for COVID-19, but because he was not wearing his tracer at the team facility, and several players were not wearing masks after rookie cornerback Damon Arnette had gone on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the four other members of Las Vegas’ starting offensive line — left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Denzelle Good, center Rodney Hudson and right guard Gabe Jackson — were deemed high-risk close contacts and all had to self-quarantine during the week.

In fact, the Raiders’ scheduled prime-time game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that week was moved from the slot into an afternoon kickoff and the four were not cleared to play until the morning of the game, without having practiced.

Brown came off the COVID-19 list last week and was slated to start at Cleveland, but a pregame IV mishap resulted in his staying the night in a local hospital. He returned to the Raiders on Wednesday and on Thursday, still dealing with complications from the virus, went back on the COVID-19 list.

On Tuesday, the NFL and NFL Players Association released updated COVID-19 protocols after positive game-day tests resulted in several high-risk close contacts. The league now recommends players and personnel wear masks on the sidelines during games.

Sources said the Raiders had been warned more than once about specific violations but those violations have continued in spite of the warnings. More severe penalties could follow if there are further violations.

Gruden, who adopted a mantra of “Crush the Virus” during training camp, took umbrage last week with the Raiders being held up as a cautionary tale.

“I’m really proud of our organization and what we’ve done,” he said at the time. “There’s a lot of things I think have been written and said about some of the violations that we have committed. We’re on the cutting edge of beating the virus. What we’ve done as an organization are top notch.”

ESPN NFL Insiders Dan Graziano and Adam Schefter contributed to this report



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