Questioning Carr’s Toughness Downright Cowardly

Gulbransen: Current Narrative Around Raiders QB Disturbing

Scott Gulbransen
October 25, 2018 - 9:58 am
Derek Carr

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This article was originally published at Silver & Black Today. Listen to Silver & Black Today on CBS Sports Radio 1140 from 8 to 10 a.m. every Sunday.

The past few days have seen a slew of media reports alleging the Raiders quarterback has “lost” his teammates confidence due to his reaction to being hit and injured during the team’s loss in London. These reports, and calling into question his toughness, are completely out of line.

The current narrative around Derek Carr is disturbing. Not because some explore whether or not he’s the right fit or has the ability to be an elite quarterback in the league, but instead because it attacks his toughness and ability to demand the respect of his teammates. These reports are based in cowardice and writers, or talking heads, who question the toughness of a guy who has played injured – at his own peril – is way out of line.

The last time I played football, I was an undersized, lazy, soft and an untalented sophomore in high school. I wasn’t made for the game and I certainly (at 16 years old) didn’t have the mindset to succeed at such a physical sport. I do remember friends and teammates who did have it and I can remember the pain and dedication it takes to stay on the field when you’re banged up. It’s a tough game and the men who play it are tough and play through lots of physical ailments and challenges.

Being a professional football player means you’re a public figure. When you lose or make mistakes, you’re going to take criticism and your performance is evaluated in the court of public opinion. The viciousness and anonymity provided by social media channels mean it’s perhaps more directed and pervasive than ever before. These “keyboard tough guys” get more personal, more crass and more out of touch with reality than ever before. Add in a media machine who feed like sharks on chum with things are going poorly like they are with the Raiders, and you have the perfect storm we see this week. Yet, there are some things that require rebuttal no matter where or whom they come from.

Even Carr’s brother Darren pointed out the ridiculousness of the “Derek Carr is soft” narrative in this Tweet response to Mike Florio’s story yesterday:

I don’t know about you, but that list of injuries doesn’t look to me like the resume of a “soft” player. Again, that doesn’t mean Carr can’t be criticized or covered with a critical lens. It’s professional sports and when you make the big bucks, you are constantly under a microscope. But the nastiness of questioning a man’s toughness and moxie crosses a line for me.

Carr, who has a different leadership style than some other quarterbacks in the league, may have issues in his own locker room. After all, his team is shrinking through roster moves and they’ve underperformed in almost every possible way. That creates discord and negativity in the locker room. But is that’s Carr’s fault? And is his team really jumping ship because he grimaced in pain (he didn’t cry – let’s be real) after being hammered yet again?

The simple answer is no.

There may be players in the locker room sowing the seeds of discontent. That may be because the writing is on the wall for them and their time as a Raider is coming to a close. Either way, I just can’t understand how you can focus on the player’s toughness and, in essence, put much of the team’s troubles on offense on one player alone.

Look, I think Derek Carr isn’t done with the Raiders and still believe he’s going to develop into the quarterback who will lead this quarterback to Las Vegas and beyond. Does he need to improve his game? Sure. He’s in a new system and deserves the time and opportunity to learn it and excel in it. Six games behind a patchwork offensive line aren’t enough to determine that. Despite opinions and looks ahead at what life could be like for the Raiders without Carr, I believe he will be the quarterback next season.

Carr himself, not a social media active user on most days, did address some of the chatter yesterday as well.

A straightforward message to fans and to the malcontents in the locker room perhaps taking shots at him? You bet.

Carr may need to improve his games in several areas, and his future as an elite NFL quarterback uncertain, but one thing you can’t say about the man is he’s soft.

Perhaps those doing it should look inward. Perhaps they already did and didn’t like what they see.

This article was originally published at Silver & Black Today. Listen to Silver & Black Today on CBS Sports Radio 1140 from 8 to 10 a.m. every Sunday.