Raiders Cancel Practice Over Air Quality Due to California Wildfires

Oakland coach Jon Gruden held a team meeting about the Camp Fire, telling players to keep perspective on the tragedy.

by Liam Daniel Pierce
Nov 16 2018, 8:31pm

Photos by Mike Nelson, John G. Mabanglo/EPA-EFE

The new reality of California being constantly on fire is settling in with horrifying extremes, and now the NFL is being impacted, albeit minimally. The California wildfires, raging across 140,000 acres roughly 140 miles northeast of Oakland Coliseum, mark the deadliest fire in state history, and has spread state-engulfing plumes of smoke into the air. In response to the poor air quality, the Oakland Raiders have canceled practice for the second day in a row, per Las Vegas Review-Journal's Michael Gehlken.

The 1-8 Raiders are set to play the Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday and have barely been able to practice, with head coach Jon Gruden opting for an indoor walk-through for the second straight day because the Air Quality Index was listed as "Very Unhealthy." That means they will have had only one day of practice before the game.

Gehlken snapped a photo of their training facility in Alameda, an island off the shores of Oakland, enshrouded in smoke:

According to Gehlken, Gruden held a meeting to help put things in perspective for players, and it seems like they were receptive. Per the Review-Journal:

“Let’s not get it twisted,” tight end Lee Smith said. “A one-win season. Disappointment. Having to move practice. In the grand scheme of life, it doesn’t matter. Of course, it’s media-driven, and it’s a production-based business, and it’s an entertainment business, and everyone loves it, and we’re paid to win. But at the same time, regardless of what goes on in the NFL, it doesn’t matter when it comes to life and the real world.

“I have four babies at home and a beautiful wife. I couldn’t imagine any of them being trapped in a burning home or any of my family members losing their lives. … If my house burned down, and if all (my family) had was the clothes on our back, I’d say that might be a little worse than losing a football game or having to move practice across town. I try to never lose perspective.”

Gehlken reported that the players have already donated to one family who was affected by the fires, and that the offensive line will be providing turkeys to families in the buildup to Thanksgiving.