The story took another twist Monday night after the Raiders defeated the New Orleans Saints, when Gruden revealed that he really did contract the virus. Asked about that Tuesday, the 57-year-old said reports that he pulled a hoax “really ticked me off.”
The subject came up after Gruden was shown on “Monday Night Football” wearing his face mask down around his chin instead of over his mouth and nose. Earlier Monday, the NFL levied $100,000 fines on three other coaches — the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, the San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan and the Denver Broncos’ Vic Fangio — plus their respective teams were docked $250,000 each for violating league directives regarding mask-wearing on the sidelines.
“I’ve had the virus, okay? I’m doing my best,” Gruden said during a postgame Zoom session with reporters (via the Bay Area News Group). “I’m very sensitive about it, but I’m calling plays. I just want to communicate these situations."
Gruden subsequently confirmed that he contracted the virus in mid-July, shortly before the Raiders began training camp. He added via text message, “I’m tired of [people] saying I faked it.”
On Tuesday, during another media session, Gruden said he didn’t “want to get into it” but offered some more details.
“It wasn’t pleasant,” he said. “And it was reported that I made up that I had the virus, and it really ticked me off because I would never do something like that. But it’s a very serious matter and, you know, obviously, I’m sensitive about it. But yeah, it was a tough ordeal, that’s for sure. Just like everybody else that’s had it.”
Payton was also seen on “Monday Night Football” failing to wear his mask over his face, and he and Gruden were hit Tuesday with the same $100,000 fines as the other coaches, with the Saints and Raiders also fined $250,000.
Payton, 56, said in March that he was “lucky” to have avoided “the serious side effects that some have.” Lynn, 51, revealed on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” in August that his body “started aching a little bit” but that some of the worst effects on him were psychological.
“You feel a little like an outcast,” Lynn, a former NFL player in his fourth season with the Chargers, said on the program. “Usually I fix problems. Now I am the problem.”
In a memo sent last week to NFL teams, league official Troy Vincent wrote that “we must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments.”
“I apologize, and if I get fined, I will have to pay the fine,” Gruden said. “I’m very sensitive about all of that, and I apologize.”
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