The Las Vegas Raiders turned heads before the NFL season kicked off with news that an assistant coach started a Zoom meeting by telling players that Jon Gruden had COVID-19. The reports at the time indicated that this was a simple trick, but now the head coach has revealed that there was some truth in the statement. He told reporters on Monday night that he previously had contracted coronavirus.
Gruden provided the information following a victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. He faced questions about keeping his face mask around his neck instead of over his mouth during the game. News broke during the game that the NFL had fined three coaches for improperly wearing masks on Sunday. Gruden responded by dropping the bombshell about his previous positive test.
"I'm doing my best," Gruden said to reporters according to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "I've had the virus. I'm doing my best. I'm very sensitive about it ... I'm calling plays. I just wanna communicate in these situations and if I get fined I'll have to pay the fine but I'm very sensitive about that and I apologize."
Gruden didn't provide any further information about contracting coronavirus, but the Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald obtained more details. He texted the head coach and learned that Gruden had tested positive in mid-July. The coach said that he didn't plan on going public with the diagnosis, but he was "irked" by the public thinking he had faked the positive diagnosis.
While Gruden didn't provide more information on Monday night, he faced questions from reporters on Tuesday. He further explained his decision to come forward with his diagnosis. He said that he would never make up that he had coronavirus due to the serious nature of the pandemic.
"I don't want to get into it, really. It wasn't pleasant," Gruden 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."
Gruden previously drew attention for the "made up" positive test in early August. NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported that the players logged onto Zoom and saw Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coach and the assistant head coach. "Bisaccia told them, 'guys, Coach Gruden has COVID, and he's at the hospital now and he's being taken care of,'" Garafolo reported at the time.
When Garafolo made his original report, he said that the team had "made up the story" about the coronavirus test in order to instill the important of being ready. Now, however, Gruden has revealed that he actually had coronavirus at the time.