Jon Gruden Pretended to Have Coronavirus to Keep Raiders Players 'Ready'

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Not only will NFL teams have to prepare for the possibility of losing star players at short notice in 2020 because of COVID-19, but potentially coaches as well.

Las Vegas Raiders' head coach Jon Gruden recognizes this possibility, and according to NFL.com's Mike Garafolo, tried out what's sure to be a controversial strategy to prepare his team:

"I wanna relay a story I heard last week because this is pretty telling how teams are approaching how things are right now in the COVID world. The Raiders' players logged onto a Zoom call last week expecting to see Jon Gruden, and instead they saw Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coach and the assistant head coach. Bisaccia told them 'Guys, uh, Coach Gruden has COVID and he's at the hospital now and he's being taken care of.' And the players were taken aback - woah. They shortly thereafter told them 'You know what, we're just putting you on a bit.' And it wasn't a joke, what it was was the team illustrating to the players that this could happen any moment to anybody."

Garafolo went on to note that Gruden did this just a few days before Philadelphia Eagles' head coach Doug Pederson revealed that he had tested positive for Coronavirus. Pederson is asymptomatic, but joined New Orleans Saints' head coach Sean Payton as NFL coaches who have been personally affected by the pandemic.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Tuesday that NFL head coaches will not be given the chance to opt out of the 2020 season, as players have. Instead, each decision will be left up to individual teams, and there's no indication that any are considering doing so.

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