Report: Jon Gruden faked coronavirus to show Raiders it's serious

Michael Nowels, The Mercury News on

Published in Football

Jon Gruden has long been known to play up the drama, but he set a new standard in a recent meeting with his Raiders players.

The team logged on for a video meeting last week expecting to see Gruden leading the call. Instead, NFL Network reports, they got special teams coach Rich Bisaccia, who had a somber message: Gruden had been hospitalized due to complications from the coronavirus.

The players responded with an appropriate level of seriousness and concern for their coach.

Unbeknownst to the Raiders players, Gruden was actually perfectly healthy: He had called upon Bisaccia for a little play-acting.

The head coach was, fortunately, using the meeting (and the fear it induced in the players) as a reminder for his team that the virus can affect anyone -- all the more reason to be extremely careful, both inside team facilities and out in the world.

"So, the point to the players was 'you've got to stay ready,' " reporter Mike Garafolo said. "Everybody has got to stay ready because this virus that Gruden himself said they want to crush could pop up and it doesn't discriminate. So this is something we could face some point in the season whether it's our head coach, our starting quarterback, whatever."

When he met with reporters last week, Gruden also struck a tone of seriousness about the virus, albeit in a way you'd expect of the man whose life revolves around the game.


"I want to dominate when we leave the building," he said then. "We want to crush this virus."

If his unconventional message got through to his players, the Raiders may have improved their chances of keeping the virus out of their new facility.

(c)2020 The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.