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Dark Side of the Raiders: The 2021 NFL Season

(Image credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA Today Sports)

Written by: Nicholas Mullick

So it is official as the Las Vegas Raiders have been eliminated in the playoffs and won't be in Super Bowl 56. Normally I would write about three reasons why the Raiders did not advance in the next round of the playoffs. But I decided against it. Especially as it was clear that the 2021 NFL Season was truly one of the darkest seasons I have ever witnessed as a football fan.

Tax Issues with Raiders.

No matter what situation that anyone is in. It is extremely important to pay taxes that are owed to the government. Well, there is a very serious situation that is involved with the Las Vegas Raiders with their taxes on Allegiant Stadium. It all started when suddenly top executives of the Las Vegas Raiders chose to resign their roles which came as a surprise to many. Until the news came of the Raiders having many financial irregularities surrounding the stadium. A big issue was the fact that there was a lot of money that was not reported as income ​​which is a big no-no when it comes to calculating taxes. To make it worse for the Raiders this has been an issue for many years with their accounting issues through their taxes. Owner Mark Davis, later on, would come out saying that “I will say it wasn’t not paying enough taxes — we overpaid our taxes, that’s one of the good things about it,” Davis said.’’ So right off the bat the Raiders not even playing a game yet had to deal with economic tax issues.

Jon Gruden Fall From Grace

Now we get to Week 5 where in the middle of the Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis colts game on Monday Night it was announced that Raiders head coach Jon Gruden chose to resign. This came as disgraceful emails came out during an investigation conducted into workplace misconduct by the Washington Football Team and a recent DEA raid involving Washington’s head trainer Ryan Vermillion. In that investigation, it was discovered that Jon Gruden made multiple different disrespectful comments in emails from former Washington Redskins GM Bruce Allen. Both Allen and Gruden both worked together when they were both involved with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In those emails, Gruden made multiple repulsive, inappropriate, and disgraceful comments. It was no surprise that when more and more emails leaked that Jon Gruden decided to resign as there was no way the Raiders would have allowed him back into the locker room plus make that environment toxic and awkward. I said it before and I will say it again, what a fall from grace to a guy who was getting 10 million dollars per year, had 7 more years left on his contract, and had a stake in the ownership of the Las Vegas Raiders to out of a job. Plus with a tainted legacy as he was also removed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor. Like I said a while ago I still don’t see how Gruden comes back after this one. I doubt he ever coaches in the NFL again or returns with ESPN as well. In fact, these emails were also sent during his tenure with the organization as well. It is quite the fall from grace for Jon Gruden. This whole controversy put a black eye not on Gruden alone but with the entire NFL in general. Thus the Raiders new interim coach would now be Rich Bisaccia.

WR Henry Ruggs III Sudden Fall From Grace

Two weeks passed and the Raiders would enter their bye week with a 5-2 record with their momentum high. Many players were living up to the expectation that they would improve from last year. Especially WR Henry Ruggs III who was the 12th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and struggled his rookie season. Statistically, he was doing a lot better in the 2021 season than in his rookie season. Ruggs was having an excellent season and could have been a comeback-of-the-year candidate. Until tragedy struck on November 2nd, 2021 Henry Ruggs made a terrible decision to drive under the influence and it resulted in the victim 23-year-old Tina Tintor losing her life. Ruggs was going way past the speed limit going 156 mph and his blood-alcohol level was .161 which is way over the limit of .08. That is not all as in the investigation it was discovered that Henry Ruggs also possessed a gun while under the influence which is also illegal. So in total with the 2 counts of DUI, 2 Counts of Reckless driving, and the single count of possession of a weapon while under the influence. Henry Ruggs will likely face around 2-50 years in prison. No surprise that the Raiders immediately released Henry Ruggs as a result of this. I mean what a fall from grace here's a guy who went from being a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was on the verge of a stronger season, to out of a job, and potentially spending many years in a prison cell. Henry Ruggs will never play another down of football as a result of this terrible incident. Rest in Peace Tina Tintor and my thoughts and prayers go out to those that are affected by this tragedy.

CB Damon Arnette Fall From Grace

When Damon Arnette entered the league there were a ton of off-the-field issues that surrounded him during the NFL Draft. This is why many, including myself, were surprised when the Las Vegas Raiders made the decision to draft him 19th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Arnette was awful during his rookie season and needed to impress during the 2021 season. The off the field issues continued to occur especially in the 2021 season as it was revealed that Damon Arnette was in the middle of a lawsuit due to a car crash that happened during the offseason. It Then got worse as a video uploaded by Damon Arnette on social media showed him with multiple different guns making death threats to fans. Now that is just yet another dumb decision that went way too far. By the way, the whole situation with Damon Arnette was the third fall from grace this season with former head coach Jon Gruden and a week ago with WR Henry Ruggs III. Arnette was awful on the field as well plus he is out of control off the field so the Raiders just decide to cut all ties immediately with Arnette. Damon Arnette went from being a Top 20 1st round pick not even a year and a half to out of a job. So now make that three people in the Las Vegas Raiders that had a fall from grace. For Arnette, he is currently a part of the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

The Medical Mistake of former OL Trent Brown

Last season the Las Vegas Raiders OT Trent Brown was a part of their o-line and in the middle of the 2020 season, he had to be hospitalized after the Raiders made a medical mistake. In that mistake, the Raiders had given an IV to him and they accidentally had caused air to enter his bloodstream. It resulted in him missing a few games. Mistakes always happen, especially in the medical field. Look at the whole Tyrod Taylor situation when he was with the Los Angeles Chargers. But in the middle of the 2021 season, Trent Brown participated in an interview and talked about what happened. Trent Brown revealed that he was hospitalized and even stated that it took him 8 months before he felt right as a result. Brown even admitted retirement as an option due to the Medical Mistake that occurred with him. It also needs to be mentioned that Trent Brown almost died as a result of that error. Think about if you were him as in the middle of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Would you want to be a part of an organization that almost killed you and ended your career? This basically explains why the Raiders traded him to New England for next to nothing in return. So basically the Las Vegas Raiders were almost responsible for not only ending the career of a talented offensive lineman but the Raiders organization almost killed him. So at this point make it (Tax Issues, 3 falls from graces, and medical malpractice)

John Madden’s Sudden Death

Things were starting to go well for the Raiders as they were 8-7 and are still in the playoff hunt. The Raiders were in Week 17 entering an important matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Things were looking bright for the Raiders after the Dark beginning of the season. Then more darkness came for the Las Vegas Raiders. Especially as one of the greatest Las Vegas Raiders coaches John Madden sadly passed away on December 28th, 2020 at the age of 85. Madden is one of the most influential people in the entire NFL. On the field especially as he won Superbowl XI with the Raiders as the team defeated the Minnisota Vikings 32-14. John Madden was also known for his contributions off the football field as well through the broadcasting and video game field. Madden was so influential to many generations of football including myself. I use to always enjoy Madden during his broadcasting in his later years. It was the Madden games that got me hooked as well to the sport of Football. I was a big Madden video game player and it heavily influenced me. I just wished EA would continue to make the game better instead of being lazy with the game. This was a big loss not only to the Raiders organization but for the entire NFL. Rest in Peace John Madden your influence will continue for many generations to come. The Raiders would face the Colts where they would pay tribute to John Madden by putting a decal on their helmets. The Raiders would later defeat the Colts 23-20.

CB Nate Hobbs Arrest

With a record of 9-7, the Raiders were still alive and just defeated the Indianapolis Colts. There were a lot of players that stepped up to the plate this season including CB Nate Hobbs is one of the best selections the Las Vegas Raiders made during the 2021 NFL Draft and has been an underrated player on the Las Vegas Raiders squad. Fun fact they got this selection via the OL Gabe Jackson trade with the Seattle Seahawks. I think that as of now if Hobbs continues to develop then this trade got a lot better for the Raiders. All was going well for the Raiders until not even a few hours after the game CB Nate Hobbs was arrested after he was caught Driving Under the Influence. So what happened was that the police got a call about a driver that was asleep in a vehicle that was parked illegally in an exit ramp of a garage. The person turned out to be Nate Hobbs and when police investigated and did a sobriety test he obviously failed and was arrested. BTW 2 months ago is when WR Henry Ruggs III fell from grace with his DUI. This was a serious situation and this could have taken Nate Hobbs out as a result and put a larger black eye with the Raiders. But the Raiders met up with Nate Hobbs and he got lucky and was able to play against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders had to focus on their matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers and with yet another distraction there were many wondering how they would perform against the Chargers.

Week 18 of the 2021 Season

Now we get to the all-or-nothing game where the Las Vegas Raiders faced the Los Angeles Chargers. Especially as the Indianapolis Colts had their disgraceful performance where they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Now whoever wins this game is in the playoffs, loses goes home, or if they tie both get into the playoffs and the Pittsburgh Steelers would be eliminated in the playoffs. So then we get to game time and I got to say this is one of the weirdest games of football I have ever seen in a while. Especially the ending as it seemed both teams were trying to battle for a tie. Until overtime hit, in the last few seconds of the game, Brandon Staley’s most notable coaching mistake was calling a timeout. Why well the Raiders were considering going through with the tie. Until the timeout was called and the Raiders decided to screw over the Chargers and kick the game-winning field goal. Brandon Staley with his awful play-calling resulted in the Chargers not making the playoffs. This victory was a bright spot in a dark season for the Raiders and now it is time to look at their playoff performance.

Wildcard Round of the Playoffs (Terrible Officiating)

So the Raiders actually made the playoffs and have the 5th seed they get to face the 4th seed Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a good game that however was full of terrible officiating that helped the Bengals win this game. Let's start off with the 1st quarter as WR Ja’Marr Chase pushed off of Desmond Trufant in a clear offensive pass interference. That was a blatant no-call and It eventually led to a CJ Uzomah TD for the Bengals to be up 7-3. That was a missed call that annoyed me but let's get to the whole whistle-blown fiasco and I am still fuming about this even a few days after the game has ended. It was in the second quarter where Joe Burrow threw a touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd and it was a beautiful throw. But two issues, 1st the whistle was blown before Tyler Boyd caught the ball as he thought Joe Burrow was out of bounds. But the play was reviewed and the play was reversed into a touchdown for the Bengals. The problem is it is against the rules as once the whistle is blown the play is dead and nonreviewable. So the refs have at this point given the Bengals 14 points in this game. There were plenty of other calls missed by the officiating crew like missing 12 men on the field for many plays twice for both the Raiders and Bengals but those two calls were the most egregious to me. The officiating was so bad that news came out that Jerome Boger’s crew will not be officiating any more NFL playoff games this season. The Raiders would, unfortunately, lose this game 26-19.


Now that was a dark season. I have no idea what the Raiders will be doing after this Dark Season. In total there was 3 fall from grace, Medical Malpractice further allegations, the death of one of the best people in the Raiders organization and the entire NFL in John Madden, Nate Hobbs DUI situation, and terrible officiating in the Bengals game. The fact that this team actually made the playoffs this year was just impressive. I have a ton of respect for the players this season and coach Rich Bisaccia for conquering through the Dark Nature of this season and actually getting to the playoffs. Heck Bisaccia has been the best interim head coach I have seen since Dan Campbell took over as the head coach when Joe Philbin got fired. Despite losing in the playoffs in the wildcard the Raiders have done the impossible and fought from a difficult situation. The 2021 NFL season for the Raiders will be one of the most notable and darkest in their franchise’s history.

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