Cody Fajardo admires friend Derek Carr’s handling of Jon Gruden controversy

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

The Las Vegas Raiders soap opera that has become their 2021 season has caught the attention of Cody Fajardo.

The Saskatchewan Roughrider quarterback was back home in Reno, NV enjoying his bye week when shockwaves down the road in Las Vegas put the NFL on its ear with the resignation of Raider head coach Jon Gruden over past discriminatory emails that were leaked.

Vegas quarterback Derek Carr’s handling of the situation taught Fajardo some things about how to handle a divisive issue in the locker room.

“I look up to Derek Carr and he’s a guy that I’ve spent time with when I was with the Raiders and a guy I’ve competed against a lot when he was at Fresno State.” Fajardo said.

“So, I consider ourselves friends and he’s one of those guys that I like to emulate what he does, not only on the field but off the field. Talking about how you love the guy but you hate the sin and I think that’s the best way to put it.

“We’re not all perfect but I thought he put it in perfect words. I listened to his interview after the game and he talked about how difficult it was to have a big win on the road and not [being able] to hug Gruden.”

Fajardo understands why Carr would have such an attachment to Gruden, despite the awful things that came out of the emails.

“What people don’t understand is the relationships you build with your coaches over the course of a season. They put so much faith into us as players because it’s their livelihood as it is our livelihood to go out there to win and perform. When you have a relationship like that with your coach, it’s always tough to see them go, especially under the circumstances that went with whatever happened with the emails.”

“I didn’t read too much about it but I thought Carr handled it with the utmost respect and that just proves to me why he’s a good role model to look up to. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns all the time, sometimes you’ve got to face the hard facts, go in front of the media, talk about some difficult issues and I thought he did a great job with that.”

Fajardo tries to learn from other adversity quarterbacks go through to help him deal with his own. He emphasized that it’s as much off-the-field stuff that he pays attention to as it is the on-field stuff since it’s such a small fraternity of only 41 starting quarterbacks in all of pro football.

“Mentally, it’s tough. Physically, it’s exhausting but I guess that’s why they pay the quarterbacks the big bucks,” Fajardo said. “You get put under the limelight and you get put in these tough situations.”

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.