NFL Levies Hefty Fines Against Raiders for COVID-19 Protocol Violations

The NFL fined the Las Vegas Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden a total of $650,000 and took away a 6th-round draft pick for a repeated violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocol. Of that $650,000, the team took $500,000 of the full amount while Gruden, personally, was hit with a $150,000 fine.

The draft pick was docked because of how the team handled tackle Trent Brown’s positive coronavirus test in October. It is expected that the Raiders will appeal the punishment.

Fines, Fines, and More Fines

This latest round of discipline on the franchise brings their season total to $1,215,000 for various violations of coronavirus protocols levied on the team, the players, and Gruden. Other teams have also been fined, with the most common fine being for improper use of masks on the sidelines during games, but the Raiders become the first team to be docked a draft pick for their violations.

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 the New Orleans Saints. 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 spotted not social distancing or wearing masks at the event.

Trent Brown Timeline

Regarding Brown’s positive COVID-19 test last month, the Raiders were supposed to be in intensive protocols following the positive test of another player, Damon Arnette. However, during a practice on October 19, Brown was not wearing a required mask and did not socially distance from teammates. The next day, the tackle tested positive.

As a result, four other starting offensive lineman were placed on the COVID-19 list as high-risk contacts and missed the rest of practice that week. The team’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was moved out of the Sunday night slot to the afternoon, and although the linemen returned, the Raiders fell to the Bucs, 45-20 on October 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 the Monday after the Tampa game.

Brown was activated from the COVID-19 list last week but missed the game at Cleveland after a pregame mishap with an IV sent him to the hospital. Several Raiders personnel described the situation as scary and confusing, resulting in a team prayer for their teammate before kickoff. They would go on to beat the Browns 16-6 to improve to 4-3 on the season. Brown went back on the COVID-19 list Thursday when he had more symptoms.

Gruden had been diagnosed with the coronavirus prior to the season kicking off and repeatedly praised the team and league for its handling during the pandemic. It will be worth monitoring how the franchise responds to these latest rounds of punishments.