The NFL has fined the Las Vegas Raiders $500,000 and head coach Jon Gruden $150,000 in the wake of what the league deemed as “repeat offenses” against COVID-19 protocols this season, two league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The NFL will also strip a 2021 sixth-round draft pick from the Raiders, following the league’s determination that offensive tackle Trent Brown and other Raiders violated various aspects of COVID-19 guidelines that league commissioner Roger Goodell set forth.
A Raiders team spokesman didn’t immediately respond for comment.
The sanctions are the strongest yet delivered by the NFL, exceeding the $350,000 penalty delivered to the Tennessee Titans in October for protocol violations that were discovered in that franchise in October. The latest fines bring the Raiders’ financial tally to $800,000 docked this season — and Gruden’s individual fine tally to $250,000 — for violations stemming from Brown landing on the COVID-reserve list in late October, a non-credentialed employee being allowed into the team’s locker room after a Week 2 win over the New Orleans Saints on “Monday Night Football,” and an additional fine for Gruden failing to wear a mask properly during that same game. Las Vegas also had 10 players fined a total of $165,000 for failing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols during a charity event in late September.
This latest fine also becomes a clear display of the NFL’s resolve when it comes to punishing teams under the “repeat offender” flag. After an Oct. 21 practice, the Raiders placed Brown on the COVID-19 reserve list, while also quarantining five teammates who had contact with Brown while failing to wear masks. A joint NFL and NFLPA investigation also determined that Brown had failed to properly adhere to continually wearing a tracking device that is used to aid teams with contact tracing in the event of a positive test in a franchise.
While multiple teams have been fined for COVID violations this season, the Raiders were the first franchise to have a draft pick stripped for repeat violations. Goodell put the potential sanction on the table with teams in an early October conference call, when he delivered a stern warning to teams that the NFL would ramp up its punishments for continued COVID violations. Goodell later issued a memo to teams repeating that same warning.
“Protocol violations that result in virus spread requiring adjustments to the schedule or otherwise impacting other teams will result in additional financial and competitive discipline, including the adjustment or loss of draft choices or even the forfeit of a game,” Goodell said in the memo. “… Simply put, compliance is mandatory. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to our protocols and best practices for the duration of the season.”
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