Raiders Coach Uses COVID-19 'Joke' to Send Message

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As the NFL gears up for its season, Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden used a practical joke to send a message to his team about the realities of COVID-19. 

Raiders players joined a Zoom call last week where they expected to speak with Gruden, but special teams coach Rich Bisaccia held the call, explaining to the players that Gruden had tested positive and was in the hospital with COVID-19.

In the end, it was an elaborate joke but one intended to send the message that anyone can get the dangerous virus. Gruden hopes his players took the lesson to heart.

“Jon Gruden's attempt to 'crush' COVID-19 included assistant Rich Bisaccia tricking the players into thinking Gruden had coronavirus. But it wasn't a mean-spirited prank. There was a serious message behind it,” NFL Network’s Mike Garofalo wrote on Twitter.

As of this week, just two head coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, including New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton and Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both coaches were asymptomatic and should recover.

Raiders owner Mark Davis has announced that the team will not be welcoming fans to games in the inaugural year of its new stadium.

“No one fan is more important to me than another, no matter if they paid for a $75,000 PSL or a $500 PSL,” Davis told ESPN on Sunday, according to reporting from Fox News. “They’re all Raider fans to me. My mindset today is no fans [should attend games].”

“I don’t even know if it’s safe to play. ‘Uncertainty’ is the word.”

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