There were plenty of storylines in Thursday night’s NFL game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders. Rookie Justin Herbert had himself quite a day and scored the winning touchdown in overtime. Veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota came off the bench to rally the Raiders after David Carr left with an injury. One of the other stories that took center stage involved Las Vegas head coach Jon Gruden’s hat.
Jon Gruden was forced to rely on Marcus Mariota at quarterback
Marcus Mariota came over to the Las Vegas Raiders to back up quarterback David Carr after spending the first five years of his NFL career with the Tennessee Titans. Mariota, who played his college football at Oregon, was the second pick in the 2015 NFL draft. The Titans selected him after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took quarterback Jameis Winston.
Mariota signed a two-year contract with the Raiders prior to the 2020 season. He was forced into action Thursday night when Carr left in the first quarter with a groin injury. Mariota accounted for a pair of scores, throwing for one and rushing for another. He rushed for 88 yards and he completed nearly 61% of his passes.
After the game, Raiders head coach didn’t seem too optimistic about a quick return from Carr. “I don’t believe it’s a real tear,” Gruden told reporters, according to CBS Sports, “but obviously if he can’t finish the game, it’s got to be pretty significant … So it was tough.” Looks like Mariota might be in line for a start next Sunday.
The Raiders’ first year in Vegas has been ‘bittersweet’
The Oakland Raiders made the move to Las Vegas to begin the 2020 NFL season. The team has moved into a brand new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium but has struggled to celebrate it. “It’s a bittersweet transitional year,” said team owner Mark Davis “With health issues and everything else going on in the world, I’m not sure if it’s a time to be celebrating.”
Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Raiders haven’t been able to share the beauty of the stadium with their fans. Gruden, however, can attest how nice the Raiders’ stadium is. “(The players) were star-struck,” he said to ESPN. “They were really excited to see their lockers, see their nameplate. It’s a lot different than Alameda. No disrespect to the old stadium.
“The bright lights, the natural grass, in a dome stadium. It’s got everything you could imagine, and I can’t wait to share it with our fans. Like I said, people around the world, entertainers, are going to be here, and it’s going to be the hot spot, if you ask me. It’s the coolest place I’ve seen.
Gruden’s hat gets a lot of air time
The Las Vegas Raiders franchise has done a lot of bouncing around. From 1960-1981, they were known as the Oakland Raiders. In 1982, the team moved to Los Angeles and was the LA Raiders for the next 12 seasons. In 1995, they made the move back to Oakland and remained there through the 2019 season.
During Thursday night’s game, TV cameras focused on Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s hat. During the first quarter, even Gruden seemed like he had forgotten where he was. Gruden had a black hat with white lettering that read “Oakland Raiders.” As the game went on, the cameras went back to Gruden, who had replaced the had with a similar style that had the correct city on it.
“I apologize for not having the right hat on. Somebody played a pretty good trick on me,” Gruden said, according to ESPN. Gruden is in his second stint as head coach of the Raiders, having coached them from 1998 to 2001 before returning in 2018.