Derek Carr, a straight-arrow who celebrated the occasion of his first NFL win with a turkey burger at fast food drive through, is the Raiders player best equipped to smooth over hurt feelings in the Bay Area.
Carr is also the best ambassador as the Raiders look to add new fans in Las Vegas, a place that given its Sin City reputation seems like an unlikely landing spot for one of the NFL’s most squeaky-clean young talents.
Already adept at walking the emotional tight rope, Carr greeted the news with a heartfelt Facebook post linked to his Twitter account in which he addressed current and future fan bases.
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) March 27, 2017
“I am overwhelmed by emotion,” Carr wrote. “I don’t know how we should feel. I feel the pain of our fans in Oakland. I also see the joy in our new fans in Las Vegas.”
Carr wrote of being from California and understanding the emotional side as well as the business side.
The business side will heat up for Carr following the NFL draft, when general manager Reggie McKenzie gets down to the business of locking up his quarterback to a long-term contract that could average $20 million per year or more.
Once that happens, Carr is front and center as the man who will lead the Raiders not only on the field, but through an unprecedented transition off the field.
Coach Jack Del Rio thought Carr struck all the right notes in his message.
“He’s really authentic. He does care. He is sincere. His tweet was right on the money,” Del Rio said. “He’s not thinking about himself, he’s thinking about others, how he can impact them in a positive way. He’s doing the right things and it’s not forced, it’s not made up, it’s not manufactured.”
Carr, who made news recently by pulling over to help a stranded motorist, went on the NFL Network’s “Total Access” Tuesday to further explain himself.
“If they ever think `you are betraying us’ or anything like that, I say you could just watch us play ball,” Carr said. “That’s what I’m focused on. It’s not going to be for a couple years. Obviously the news hurts. Everything I was feeling I expressed in that little page of notes I wrote.
“That’s really how I what I was feeling. When it really comes down to it, you can come watch us play ball and you can see if we’re trying to let anybody down. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to compete, we’re going to try and win football games because that’s what’s important right now.”
Carr was heartened that things were relatively quiet at the team facility Monday when the vote to approve the move was announced, other than a trash can stuffed with a couple of jackets and memorabilia.
“That just tells you that Raider fans are loyal, Raider fans stay true no matter what,” Carr said. “It wasn’t a big parade or a big party to kick us out or anything like that. Raider fans are everywhere and we’re resilient, we’re tough, we’re rowdy. That’s just who we are. Everyone is staying tough and we’re really just going to go through it together.”
Del Rio said Carr, who broke his right fibula in Week 16, is full-go for the offseason program, which begins in mid-April, as well as the first round of organized team activities, which are in late May.
“He’s fired up, we got to peek out and see him working out with the trainers last week when he came down,” Del Rio said. “He’s moving around real well. I think he’s real excited where he is and where the rehab’s going and we expect to have him for all the OTAs and full strength.”
Carr said he recently jumped and slapped his hand on a 10-feet ceiling in his home and proclaimed himself good to go.
“I almost hit my head,” Carr said.
Once the Raiders do head for Las Vegas, Carr, along with defensive end Khalil Mack, will be even more crucial as a leader who will inspire others to conduct themselves in a professional manner.
“They are the kind of guys I can lay my head down on my pillow and not worry about,” Del Rio said. “And not only are they not going to get in trouble, but they’re going to do the right thing.”
Former Raiders quarterback and NFL analyst Rich Gannon thinks the Raiders will largely follow Carr’s lead.
“You hope you’ve got good players who make good decisions,” Gannon said. “I know the quarterback will, and it starts from there.”