In a normal season, taking a pictures with fans at a teammate's charity event isn't a big deal, but this isn't a normal season, which is why Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and several of his teammates are in hot water this week.
Carr was one of several Raiders players who was spotted not wearing a mask in public on Monday, which is against NFL rules. Before the season started, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to new policies this year that would require all players to wear masks while out in public. Any player who violates the rule can be fined a maximum of $14,650.
The Raiders quarterback was asked about the situation on Wednesday and he said he felt "terrible" about bringing so much negative press to his team.
"I hate that a few moments without our masks on led to a story about our team and all this kind of stuff, especially after the fines that were brought on a couple of weeks ago," Carr said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. "So, we felt terrible about that. We addressed it, we talked with Coach [Jon Gruden] and we talked with our trainers about what really went down and all that kind of stuff."
Carr said he posed with a fan who won his jersey in an auction.
"We've been doing our very best and we had a few moments where we slipped up, took the masks off so people could see our face and stuff like that," Carr said. "We signed waivers, hand sanitizer like crazy. All this kind of stuff, we tried our best even at the event. We weren't perfect but we were trying our best. We weren't trying to be careless and reckless. But at the same time, Darren Waller had an event for something that meant a lot to him and they raised so much money that you won't even begin to imagine how much money they raised to help people with addiction to get them in the right place."
Carr and nine of his teammate's attended the event, which was held to raise money for Darren Waller's foundation. The Raiders tight end used the fundraiser to raise money to help at-risk youth overcome addiction. Besides Carr and Waller, the other eight Raiders in attendance were: Hunter Renfrow, Jason Witten, Nathan Peterman, Zay Jones, Foster Moreau, Derek Carrier, Mike Panasuik and Nevin Lawson.
Pictures and videos from the event showed multiple players not wearing a mask. According to Carr, the focus should be on the fact that Waller raised nearly $300,000 for his foundation.
"My hope and my prayer is that a few moments of us messing up, a few minutes here where we were seen on camera, not in the private room in the separate room for an hour, things like that," Carr said. "I hope we don't lose what was really going on there. Because Darren had a great idea, a great plan. He wants to help people and I hope that we can more so put the conversation that way. Again, we've addressed it in house. We should have kept the mask on even if they are introducing us and things like that. But at the end of the day, I hope the story is more about what Darren is trying to accomplish."
The problem for the Raiders is that this is potentially their third COVID violation in just eight days. Not only did Jon Gruden get fined $100,000 for not wearing a mask in Week 2, but the Raiders are also under investigation for allowing a non-credentialed team employee to enter the locker room following the team's 34-24 home win over the Saints.
According to ESPN.com, the league is looking into the current situation. Besides the lack of masks, the Raiders also potentially violated local ordinances. In the state of Nevada, no event can host more than 50 people and it's estimated that there were at least 100 people in attendance at Waller's fundraiser. The club that hosted the event has already been fined $2,000 for four separate violations of the state's COVID-19 protocols, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The NFL's personal conduct policy for 2020 calls for players to follow all local guidelines and protocols relating to the pandemic.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he has already had a talk with his team about the situation and it doesn't sound like he expects anything like this to happen again .
"I'll just say this: We've done a good job, we've done an excellent job," Gruden said, via ESPN.com. "Last night, it was addressed with our players. They walked in with their masks on, there was an event. Sometimes you go to a restaurant, take your mask off. They're aware of their mistake, But we've done an excellent job -- using our masks, taking proper care of each other and everybody.
The NFL probably isn't going to take this situation lightly, especially after the league got a wake up call this week when a COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee ended with nine members of the Titans organization testing positive for coronavirus. The outbreak has led to the postponement of the Steelers-Titans game, which will no longer be played in Week 4.