LAS VEGAS — Derek Carr, his voice cracking at times and his eyes growing watery, spoke on a number of subjects in the Las Vegas Raiders quarterback’s weekly media conference Wednesday, less than 48 hours after Jon Gruden had resigned.
The torrent of offensive emails authored by Gruden still fresh in his mind, Carr talked for nearly 15 minutes, saying he was emotional but had a job to do, and that the Raiders’ season was not done. He also spoke of the mood in a shell-shocked locker room and offered a suggestion to the NFL when it comes to private emails and texts.
Here is the complete transcript of Carr’s presser with reporters (questions have been edited for clarity).
What’s been your message to your teammates? And do you get a sense of where everyone else is mentally?
Carr: Yeah, again, I can’t speak for everybody. I’m not in everybody’s shoes. A lot of emotions obviously. Didn’t see all of this coming. I don’t think any of us did. It just caught us all by surprise, but there will be a day for those feelings. There will be a day and a time to talk about all that, and I’ll get into some of it if you have more questions.
But from an emotional standpoint I got a job to do and that’s never changed no matter who the coach is, no matter who’s on the team with me. I have a job to do and that’s to lead these men, especially now. They need a leader more than ever and my job is to lead them with my actions like I always have and my voice. Just trying to be a strong voice for people to continually bring people together and continually push people in the right direction. We’re 3-2. We have everything out in front of us that we’ve wanted from the beginning. It’s not going to be with the same room of people, which is hard, but at the same time nobody cares, and you know how that goes. I think that for me just the message today was I just tried to push everything off.
I mean I’m sick about it. I have a lot of emotions — angry, sick, upset, mad, frustrated. All those things. Empathy. I don’t think there is a book on how to handle all this, or actually there is, but I don’t think that there is a way for a quarterback to stand up here and answer these types of questions is what I should say. But for me, my message today was we have a job to do. It’s Wednesday, if we are still in our feelings, it’s too late. We got to move on.
You said Sunday you were prepared to move forward with Jon Gruden as head coach. How did that change after the rest of those emails came out?
Carr: It was a lot to handle, I’ll say it that way. You all know me, man. I don’t condone that kind of talk. I don’t talk that way. My kids sure as heck will never talk that way and it’s hard because I love the man so much. Like I have family members that have done things, I’ve done things that I’m glad that I’m still loved. I think more than anything coach needs people to help him, to love him in whatever areas that we can.
But at the same time, what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. I’ve never seen something like this happen and so you don’t know the precedent. I don’t know is he going to get suspended, is it a fine? I don’t know. I’m not good at figuring those kinds of things out. But when that came out, shortly after my wife sent it to me. I was getting ready studying and stuff, she sent it to me, I read it and about time I got done reading it, it was over, and he resigned. So, you could imagine there was a lot going on in my head and again I’ll probably get more into it someday about everything that went down for me, but again you all know I got a job to do.
And it wasn’t his fault that we didn’t play well on the field. We as players the last two weeks, we haven’t been good enough. So, that’s not on him. That’s on us. We got to play better this week and get a win, especially against a good defense.
Without Gruden here, how it can be different on the field?
Carr: Yeah, I think we’re going to Wing T, triple-option football, ball control. Just try and run the quarterback as much as we can in the middle. (laughter) I think there are things set in place with our offense. I’ve been with Oly [offensive coordinator Greg Olson]. My rookie year he called plays. I’ve heard his voice through the headset. I know how he calls the game and I know how he thinks. We’re in the same room.
Every conversation I had with Coach Gruden, I had with Oly this whole time and so us three and now Johnny Mo (senior offensive assistant John Morton), we were all together all the time. And so, it’s not going to be anything crazy new, but there are philosophies that some people have. So, I don’t want to give Oly’s secrets away, but could things be different? Yes. Could things be similar? Yes, absolutely. But if Denver is listening, we are probably just going to run the ball the whole time.
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Defensive end Carl Nassib asked for a personal day. How are you guys handling that, knowing he’s going through something?
Carr: And you know how I meant that too. For that, I honestly just found out about that. We’re not in the same meeting room. If [tight end] Darren Waller is not in the room, I’m going to notice. He sits next to me. Whenever a defensive guy isn’t here or is hurt, I find out usually on Thursday or Friday, like ‘Oh man, are you alright?’ Especially when we are practicing when the defense is up, I’m throwing routes with my receivers. I’m not in it like that.
For Carl, from day one I told Carl I love him, and he knows I got his back. So, if anyone won’t talk to him, if anyone will mess with him, Carl knows that I have his back that’s for sure, and with that kind of stuff I’ll let Carl handle all that with the teammates and all that kind of stuff. I think Mr. [general manager Mike] Mayock said, he’s a population of one really. Like he has every right to feel the way he wants to feel, just like all of our teammates have every right to feel however they want to feel. That was the message for everyone today really, but at the same time with the mindset that we have a game to play, and we have to move on as hard as it is.
A lot has been made of your relationship with Gruden. It must be very surreal for you now that it’s over. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Carr: If I’m honest, that’s the hardest part for me and again there will be a time for those feelings to come out. Like I said, there is a sad feeling. There is anger. I’m human. I’ve done my best every year dealing with whatever you know what we have to deal with, and it is what it is. But I promise you someday we can talk about that.
I’m trying my best personally, honestly, just to make my mind focused on football as hard as it is, and I hope that makes sense and I’m trying to be respectful and answer it the best I can for you. But personally, I have to keep my mind as focused as I can or else I’ll start drifting and start feeling some type of way.
You have this unprecedented storm of adversity, and yet your team is good. Those two things usually don’t go together. How do you grasp that?
Carr: Well, I’ve been in this situation. I think it’s my fifth head coach in eight years, and so I do know the feelings of when it’s a good football team and when it’s not. And the feelings of when it’s not you get a lot of guys that are just coming to work, just counting the days kind of a thing. Whereas this team, the way we came in today everything is still out there for us. We are a good football team. We believe that. We need to play better, but we still believe that we can compete with anybody.
And so, it’s just a weird time. I think that’s the easiest way to say it, it’s a weird time but I know a little bit about compartmentalizing some things. My senior year, my son was having surgeries where doctors were saying he might not make it and I still had to play football games. Like, I don’t wish that for anybody but for whatever reason I’ve just had to go through some of those things, and this is one of those things where you just got to be able to separate the two. And it’s weird and it’s hard and I thank the Lord I can do it because I want to feel some type of way.
But we are a good football team and we do still have everything out in front of us and I think that I’m just trying to focus on what is good, and what is good for our football team is thinking about those things. Practice was great. It’s easier to do honestly when you are on the field. It’s easier to do when you’re in the meetings because that’s what you’re focused on, that’s where your mind is at. The hard part is when you’re outside of that not letting your mind wander.
Are you seeing what you want to see from your teammates to let you know that the team is going to be able to deal with this?
Carr: Yeah. I mean we’re definitely focused on football. Are conversations still happening? Absolutely. Another part of my job as a leader here is to make sure everybody is okay and I got to check on guys if I see a certain look on their face, make sure they are alright. ‘How do you feel about everything? You alright? Hey, I got your back man, whatever you need. 3 a.m., man, call me. I’ll be there.’ My kids are probably up anyways, or at least one of the seven (laughter).
I’m there for you. And so, there are those conversations, but as a whole the focus is on winning. We had great meetings; we had a great practice. Full of energy, competition was great. That part was good, but when you walk around and you sit at the meal room, it’s hard not to. It’s the biggest story in sports right now and that’s what we talk about.
You turn the TV on and that’s what’s on and you do your best to stay focused when it’s time to focus and all those kinds of things. But again, I’m just sad. I’m sad for the people that were hurt. I’m sad for coach. I’m sad for our organization. I’m sad for our fans. There is a lot of those feelings, but at the same time when it’s football time I thought we were really good. I am hearing and seeing the things that you want to hear when it is football time.
Are there times on the field that you notice Coach Gruden isn’t out there anymore?
Carr: Thankfully there was not too many mistakes today. There was no mistakes today. I don’t want to say no mistakes, there is always something. I had a feeling of when I hit the field, I was waiting for him to click in the headset and start talking to me. Make a joke, make me laugh. Get me going, fire me up. And it was Oly’s voice today and again thankfully that’s something I’m used to. Thankfully it’s something I heard before.
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Don’t get me wrong, I love the man, and you hate the sin. Like for anybody, no one is perfect. If we just started opening up everybody’s private emails and texts, people will start sweating a little bit. Hopefully not too many, but maybe that’s what they should do for all coaches and GMs and owners from now on. You got to open up everything and see what happens. But you hate the action, you hate it. You’re not supposed to like it, but you love the person. And I love the person. I’ve grown to love him so much.
We spent so much time together. We’ve been through so many battles. We’ve been through so many things together. He’s always had my back. He’s always been there for me, and I love his family. I love his wife. I love his kids. And I think that’s why it’s hard because he’s not around. It’s over. He’s not going to be around and that’s the hard part. That for me as a human being is the hardest part. As a football player, like I said, I got a job to do regardless of what’s going on. It was different with him not out there.
But long story short, you hate, you feel for everybody involved, but I will always be someone no matter who does what I’m going to love you. And if that’s wrong, then I’m okay being wrong. I’m going to try and build people up no matter what. That doesn’t make what they did right, but I’m always going to be there to try and be there on the next step, on the other side, to try and lift them back up and love them up again.