Gruden defends Raiders on coronavirus despite latest penalty

Coach Jon Gruden defended the way the Las Vegas Raiders have handled the coronavirus despite the organization being hit with a hefty penalty for violations from the league.

A person familiar with the punishment said the team was fined $500,000, Gruden docked $150,000 and the team stripped of a sixth-round draft pick because of how the Raiders handled Trent Brown’s positive coronavirus test last month. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

“I’m just going to say, very proud of our organization, how we have handled this entire protocol and this entire process and I’m not going to comment any further than that,” Gruden said Friday. “I believe we’re on the cutting edge of being the best at servicing players and I’ll leave it at that.”

The Raiders are appealing the penalty.

The organization has been penalized several times already this season for violating coronavirus protocols with the punishments leading to a total of $1,215,000 for the team, Gruden and players.

Gruden wouldn’t comment when asked if he believed the team was being singled out by the league.

“I’m really proud of the guys that I work with here,” he said. “We’ve done a heck of a job. It’s a very difficult process and I stand by what we’re doing here. I believe we’re doing a heck of a job. We can always get better and that’s obvious.”

While several teams have been fined so far this season, the Raiders are the first to be docked a draft pick following multiple violations.

The latest punishment stems from Brown’s positive test last month when the Raiders were already supposed to be in “intensive” protocols following teammate Damon Arnette’s positive test.

At a practice on Oct. 19, a day before Brown tested positive, he was not wearing a mask as required and didn’t socially distance from teammates. That led to four other starting offensive linemen being placed on the COVID-19 list as “high-risk” contacts. They missed the rest of the practice week before returning the morning of a 45-20 loss to Tampa Bay on Oct. 25.

Safety Johnathan Abram was forced to miss that game because he spent time with Brown the following day and wasn’t cleared to return until Oct. 26.

Brown was activated from the COVID-19 list last week but missed the game at Cleveland after a reported mishap with an IV sent him to the hospital before the game. Brown went back on the COVID-19 list Thursday when he had more symptoms.

Gruden was fined $100,000 and the team docked $250,000 after the coach didn’t wear his mask properly during a Week 2 win over New Orleans. The team also was fined $50,000 for allowing an unauthorized employee in the locker room after the game.

Tight end Darren Waller was fined $30,000 and nine teammates, including quarterback Derek Carr, were fined $15,000 for attending an indoor charity event held by Waller’s foundation that violated local coronavirus protocols. Players were seen at the event not wearing masks or social distancing.

NOTES: DT Maurice Hurst (ankle) and DE Arden Key (foot) will miss Sunday’s game against the Chargers. … LT Kolton Miller (ankle), RB Josh Jacobs (knee, illness), Trayvon Mullen (hamstring), and Jeff Heath (hip) are questionable. Miller has played 1,910 consecutive offensive snaps. “He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached, so I’m going to wait until game day to rule him out,” Gruden said.

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