There was some hand-wringing from outsiders Sunday after TV cameras caught Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden and Derek Carr bickering on the sideline after the quarterback badly misfired on a third-down pass.
Gruden shrugged off the dust-up, and the suggestion there was something more to it.
“That’s the first time you’ve seen it,” the coach told reporters, “but it isn’t the first time it’s happened. We’re both competitors. We’re competing hard there. We had a man-to-man situation and he went for the big play.
“We had a mild disagreement. But you know what, that’s part of this business. We’re going to have times where we clash a little bit, but we’re also very supportive of one another. I’m really proud of him. He’s been through a lot this year, and I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 most valuable player, said those exchanges were commonplace when he played for Gruden.
“We had some epic exchanges,” Gannon, now a CBS analyst, said by phone Monday. “I never had that with anybody else. We were very similar in age, we were wired the same way, we were both ultra-competitive. We were emotional guys …
“I think it’s much ado about nothing. At that position, if you can’t be coached and take constructive criticism and feedback, and every once in a while a little bit of a verbal beatdown, then you’re probably in the wrong league and maybe at the wrong position. I think Derek can handle that. Jon’s just trying to get it out of him.”
Strange but true
Not every anniversary is to be celebrated.
Take the weird coincidence of Alex Smith’s broken leg, for instance. That gruesome compound fracture Sunday happened to the Washington quarterback precisely 33 years to the day that former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann suffered a similarly broken leg that ended his career.
Theismann was in attendance at Sunday’s 23-21 loss to Houston, and might have noted that was the exact score of that fateful game on Nov. 18, 1985, although the Redskins were on the winning end of that game against the New York Giants.
And there are more anniversaries to recognize this week. Heading into their Thanksgiving game at Dallas, the Redskins signed Mark Sanchez to back up new starting quarterback Colt McCoy.
Thursday is the sixth anniversary of the “butt fumble,” when Sanchez, then quarterback of the New York Jets, collided with the rear end of teammate Brandon Moore and fumbled. New England’s Steve Gregory scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a touchdown, among the most memorable bloopers in NFL history.
What’s more, Monday was the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle at the Meadowlands,” when the Giants were leading Philadelphia, 17-12, and merely needed to run out the final seconds by taking a knee to secure the upset victory.
Instead, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand off to Larry Csonka, but the two botched the exchange. The Eagles’ Herm Edwards picked up the loose ball and ran 26 yards for the winning touchdown.
Coincidentally, the 3-7 Giants play at the 4-6 Eagles on Sunday. At this point, it wouldn’t quite take a miracle for either of those teams to reach the postseason, but a lot would have to break in their favor.
The Chicago Bears might be rolling, but they barely have time to take a breath this week.
They play at Detroit on Thursday, after pulling off a huge Sunday night victory over Minnesota.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Bears are the first team since the 1970 merger to play at 1 p.m. or earlier on three days’ rest immediately following a primetime game.
“The No. 1 thing is to make sure these guys are taken care of, see where they’re at physically and then mentally,” Coach Matt Nagy told reporters Monday. “But really we just want to send home the message of ‘here we go.’ It's right back at it.
“We want to work smarter, not harder.”
Hue Jackson, fired last month as Cleveland’s coach, will be across the field from his old team Sunday when the Cincinnati Bengals play host to the Browns.
Jackson has returned to the Bengals for his third coaching stint with that club, this time as special assistant to the head coach. His focus is the defense — or, in other words, trying to shut down Cleveland’s offense.