Racism, drink driving resulting in death, death threats – one scandal after another followed at the Las Vegas Raiders. Can they turn things around against the Dallas Cowboys?
Munich – The Las Vegas Raiders are looking to make amends in their Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Sunday’s 13-32 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was their third straight defeat. “That was a poor performance,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said. Quarterback Derek Carr found even clearer words: “That was terrible.”
Yet the Raiders’ season began so promisingly: they won their first three games. After seven days, they were on course for the playoffs with a 5-2 record. After the bye week, however, the total crash followed.
First a 16:23 loss to the weak New York Giants, then the defeats against the Kansas City Chiefs (14:41) and the Cincinnati Bengals. “We’ve got to get better,” defensive end Matt Crosby said. “We’ve already beaten good teams. And we’ve lost to teams that we felt like we could have beaten. “
Key game against the Dallas Cowboys
Of all the games for the Raiders, this one will be a key one against the Dallas Cowboys, who will also be looking to make amends after a 19-9 loss to the Chiefs and have the NFL’s best offence in terms of yards.
With a record of 5-5, it could be decided in which direction the rest of the season will go. But the question is: Are the Raiders mentally capable of getting back on track?
The franchise from the gambling metropolis has made a lot of headlines recently – but almost exclusively off the field.
Carl Nassib confessed to homosexuality
In June, these were still positive: defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active NFL professional to confess to his homosexuality.
The 28-year-old was met with a wave of solidarity in response. “We always say we’re a family in the Raiders locker room,” Carr clarified.
That family, however, was reeling from many incidents thereafter.
The 1st Scandal: Jon Gruden
In October, old e-mails came to light in which head coach Jon Gruden made racist insults to DeMaurice Smith, the chairman of the NFLPA, among others. NFL boss Roger Goodell also got his comeuppance and was called a “faggot” by Gruden.
Two days after Week 5, when the Raiders conceded their second loss of the season, the coach was fired.
Briefly, it seemed the team had recovered well from that. Two wins against the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles followed.
November, however, turned into a month of disasters for the Raiders.
The 2nd Scandal: Henry Ruggs III
On the morning of November 2, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III caused a fatal traffic accident while intoxicated. He was reportedly travelling at around 250 km/h in his Corvette. He was only able to slow down to 205 km/h when he crashed into an SUV.
The other car burst into flames. The 23-year-old driver and her golden retriever were burnt to death.
The logical consequence: the Raiders fired Ruggs. The previously very effective pass receiver (921 yards in 20 games) faces up to 50 years in prison. Carr openly admitted how much this incident weighs on the team: “I don’t know how to handle it properly, but I’m doing the best I can. “
The 3rd scandal: Damon Arnette
Not even a week after Ruggs’ accident, the next scandal emerged. This time at the centre of it: cornerback Damon Arnette, who just like Ruggs was picked in the 1st round in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The pass defender posted a video on “TikTok” waving guns around and making death threats.
The Raiders’ response, again, was to fire him. “The Raiders will not tolerate this type of behaviour,” General Manager Mike Mayock made clear.
The one who suffers is the team: the pick spent on Arnette was part of the big trade of Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears in September 2018.
Can the Raiders recover from all these setbacks to bring the season to a conciliatory end?
“We believe we can improve,” Carr said. “We have to do it now. There is a difference between just believing and actually doing it. We have to prove that.”
Preferably in the game against the Dallas Cowboys.