The Las Vegas Raiders opened training camp for the 2022 season earlier this week, and veteran quarterback Derek Carr reflected on the challenges of the 2021 campaign during his first media availability Friday, per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez:
"I think we've had us a good amount of time since all of that went down.
"I told you, I couldn't even comprehend it at the time, I'm a human person -- I didn't get a chance really to feel all of those emotions and after the season, one day it just hits you like, 'Wow, dang.' Moreso the life transformations for families and for life loss and careers that are done and all that stuff. The real-life part of it hits you because it was so, it happened, and we were right back here to play. There's so much in your mind, football-wise, that we didn't really get to comprehend it all."
In October, Jon Gruden resigned as head coach after reports revealed that he used racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language in emails over a 10-year period.
Rich Bisaccia served as the interim head coach.
Then in November, wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was involved in a high-speed car crash that left a woman, Tina Tintor, and her dog dead. He was charged with four felonies, including DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and reckless driving resulting in substantial bodily harm, and a misdemeanour.
The Raiders released Ruggs, who was one of Carr's top targets, shortly after learning of the crash. He had appeared in 20 games for the franchise across two seasons after being selected 12th overall in the 2020 NFL draft out of Alabama.
Also in November, the Raiders released cornerback Damon Arnette after a video surfaced showing him wielding a firearm and making death threats. There had also been lawsuits filed against him from an October 2020 car crash.
The Raiders ultimately finished second in the AFC West with a 10-7 record before falling in a wild-card matchup against Cincinnati Bengals.
There are high expectations for Las Vegas in 2022 after the hire of former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as head coach.
The franchise also signed five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams to an extension after acquiring him from the Green Bay Packers and brought in two-time All-Pro defensive end Chandler Jones in free agency this offseason.
In addition, Carr, edge-rusher Maxx Crosby and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow signed contract extensions.
While the Raiders are a better team on paper entering the 2022 campaign, they're set to compete in one of the most difficult divisions in football alongside the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West, so it's not going to be easy for the club to build upon its on-field success from last season.