It would be more than understandable if Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s mind was elsewhere on Sunday when he takes the field at MetLife Stadium to face the New York Giants for their Week 9 matchup.
For the second time in a matter of weeks, the 30-year-old is dealing with off-field controversies that are no fault of his own, but casting a maelstrom of dark clouds over he and his teammates.
First, it was head coach Jon Gruden resigning after leaked emails from a decade ago surfaced that featured him using inappropriate language.
Then, on Tuesday, his leading receiver in 22-year-old Henry Ruggs was driving 156 mph just before he struck another vehicle in Las Vegas, killing the driver and her dog. His blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit.
The Raiders released him shortly after his arrest.
“He literally texted me at midnight [hours before the crash] — golf swing — me and Hunter [Renfrow] — ‘How’s my swing look? You guys need to help me,” Carr said. “Just seeing that and getting the news when we woke up — how am I supposed to handle that? How am I supposed to react?”
It was clear that he is struggling with seeing his friend make such a poor decision while trying to remain poised as one of the leaders of a 5-2 Raiders team that sits atop the AFC West despite all of the off-field issues.
“Yeah, my emotions have been on a rollercoaster so to speak this year,” Carr said (h/t Adam Hill Las Vegas Review-Journal). “My heart goes out so much. I’ll try and say it with a straight face because I’ve already been emotional about every bit of this. But to the family, to all the families involved, no one ever wants to see this, whether it’s a football player or not, you never want to see something like this happen.
“It broke my wife and I’s hearts, honestly. We talked about it a little bit, but I can only talk about it so much. But at the same time, whether it’s fair or not, I have to compartmentalize and I have a job to do. These are two totally different situations. Some similar emotions, some very different emotions. But the message has to stay the same. Honestly, I don’t want it to right now. If I’m selfish, I don’t want it to.
“I want to say a lot of different things. But we have a game this week and I’ve got a job to do, and so do the guys in that locker room. From that aspect from a football aspect — I hate to talk about both in the same thing but it’s weird and that’s what we’re doing — from a football aspect, every man in that locker room kind of feels the same way but we have work to do… I don’t know the right way to handle it, but I’m doing my best.”
Carr also took the time to express his support of Ruggs, who was taken to jail and had his first court appearance on Wednesday.
“I will always be here for him,” Carr said. “That won’t change. I’ll prove that over the course of time to him. Not to anybody else. He needs people to love him right now. He’s probably feeling a certain type of way about himself right now. He needs to be loved. If no one else will do it, I’ll do it.”
Kick-off for the Giants’ matchup against Carr and the Raiders is at 1 p.m. ET. The game can be viewed on CBS.