Winter 2022

QB Derek Carr preaches at church, endures struggles with 'absolute peace' in God

This season did not go as Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders envisioned. After a 10-7 season last year that ended in a wild-card round playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Raiders stumbled to a 6-11 record in 2022 and missed the playoffs.

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Carr was eventually benched in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham for the final two games of the regular season. Though he signed a contract extension last offseason, Carr himself indicated that this might be the end of his time with the Raiders, posting a goodbye message on Twitter last week.

He acknowledged that his next steps are uncertain, and on Saturday night he spoke at ChurchLV in Las Vegas, where he reflected on his time with the Raiders and the work he sees God doing in his life.

“Nine years. One place. It’s been hard,” he said. “I always make this joke, I say, ‘Franchises are heavy. Franchises are heavy to carry.’ But aren’t we thankful that whatever it is that God has asked you to do that He can be the one to just say, ‘Why don’t you just put it in My hands? Why don’t you just give it back to Me?'”

The last couple of seasons, in particular, have been difficult both on and off the field for Carr and the Raiders. Last season, the Raiders fired head coach Jon Gruden after reports that, from 2008 to 2011, he wrote a number of emails containing racist and other inappropriate language. In that same season, star wide receiver Henry Ruggs was charged with driving under the influence resulting in death, as well as reckless driving.

Carr, who has been vocal about his faith throughout his career, remained a leader through it all and even used it as a chance to share about forgiveness and his faith in God.

He’s also dealt with some family hardship during his career, he shared on Saturday. His son, Dallas, was born with intestinal malrotation, where a baby’s intestines don’t form into a coil in the abdomen, according to KidsHealth.org. He said his grandfather also went through health struggles, and he wasn’t sure either of them would make it through.

“I’ve gone through some stuff a little bit, and I’ve found out that nothing can get me down,” he said at ChurchLV. “Nothing can take my feet out from under me. There’s nothing that can come against me where I’m not going to win in the end.”

He later added, “And I have walked through these things and these times with an absolute peace and a grace that has covered me.”

In 2022, pressure began to mount as the Raiders were unable to find success under new head coach Josh McDaniels and Carr was unable to put up the same numbers he and the Raiders had grown accustomed to; his 3,522 passing yards were his fewest since 2017. In his message to the church, Carr said it’s easy to point fingers and blame others. A lot of people are trying to do that for him, he said, but that’s not his message.

“Instead, I said, ‘Lord, what is it that You’re trying to reveal to me in this season? Lord, what is it that You’re trying to do in my heart in this season?'” he said. “Patience? Forgiveness? Do they deserve it? Doesn’t matter. He didn’t ask me if they deserve it. That wasn’t on the agenda for me. The agenda for me was just ‘forgive.’ The agenda for me was just ‘have peace.'”

A passionate speaker, Carr reportedly almost skipped the NFL altogether to pursue a career in ministry. When his playing days are over, it’s possible he could go from behind center to behind the pulpit.

That will have to wait, at least for a little bit.

“I once said that if I’m not a Raider, I would rather be at home and I meant that,” he said in his goodbye message. “But I never envisioned it ending this way. That fire burning inside me to win a championship still rages. A fire no man can extinguish; only God. So I look forward to a new city and a new team who, no matter the circumstance, will get everything I have.”

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