ALAMEDA – Most Raiders have avoided the media altogether since Amari Cooper got traded Monday afternoon. There are a few rare exceptions willing to speak, either out of kindness or obligation.
Lee Smith asked to speak to the media. Let's repeat: asked.
The veteran tight end walking into the Raiders locker room, stepped in front of camera armed with an opening statement lasting nearly four minutes. He spoke for almost 10 emphasizing a singular point: In Derek Carr we trust.
Smith wanted to push back against reports stating Carr had lost support in the Raiders locker room, and had his toughness was called into question.
Smith did so in no uncertain terms.
"All these reports of this locker room being fractured with Derek Carr, it's the most obnoxious and ridiculous thing ever," he said. "It's to the point to where it's comical and laughable that I'm even sitting here talking about it. Us as players have zero issue with Derek Carr. He is our leader. He has always been our leader. We put a C on his chest for a reason, along with Rodney Hudson. Regardless of what face he makes after a tackle or what everybody wants to dive into and wear him out about, attacking his character or attacking him as a leader on this football team is a joke. I hope that everyone hears me loud and clear.
"It's frustrating. It's annoying and it's laughable and not fair to him when it's obviously not coming from inside this locker room. Anybody can say whatever they want. Coach Gruden and Derek Carr are going to take all the bullets because we're 1-5 and we're not playing the football we want to play. Coach Gruden had a lot of expectations coming in. We had a lot of expectations coming in. I understand that those two guys take most of the bullets, and those two can definitely handle it. Derek Carr certainly can, based off of the person he is and the character he has. To insinuate that there's an issue inside the locker room with our captain and our leader is the biggest joke I've ever seen, and I've been around this league my whole life."
Lee Smith was born in father Daryle Smith's first year with the Dallas Cowboys, and has been around the NFL his whole life. He said this experience was unique, especially watching Carr get criticized by pundits and fans across the country.
While the results haven't been ideal, Smith wrapped his opening statement by saying a 1-5 start hasn't ruined team chemistry.
"There's a brotherhood inside this locker room that's very special unlike any team I've ever been a part of," Smith said. "The attacking of our strongest leader and the strongest man in our locker room is absolute horseshit."
Smith says all the talk about Carr has impacted the quarterback.
"He's a human being. We're all human beings. We're not robots," Smith said. "He has a 1-5 record as the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. That's hard enough on him, let alone worrying about his two sons happening to see an article that he's not tough. It's ridiculous. Of course it bothers him. He's human. I'm human. We're all human. I don't want people bashing me all over the internet for my friends and family to see. I think any man would be lying if he said it didn't bother him. We're all human beings in this business. I think that's a perspective that's missed.
"Derek makes $25 million per year. Coach Gruden's well paid, obviously. That's our head coach and our quarterback. They're going to take the bullets. For the most part, I would never do this because that's their gig, but if anybody can handle it it's Derek Carr. With his character and the person and leader he is, he can handle it all day long. But Derek Carr wasn't the one getting himself hit against Seattle, I can promise you that. It was me and other guys on this team getting his head dented in. I don't think he has blamed everybody, has he? I can promise you he hasn't, because he's a better man than anyone standing here."