HENDERSON, Nev. — Derek Carr said he and Hunter Renfrow, avid golfers when not playing quarterback and wide receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders, got a text message with a video attached from Henry Ruggs III late Monday night.
“A golf swing,” Carr said Wednesday of the contents of the message from Ruggs, who had been at sports entertainment venue Topgolf and asked, “‘How’s my swing look? You guys need to help me.’
“Just seeing that and then getting the news when we woke up, how am I supposed to handle that? How am I supposed to react?”
Less than four hours after the text, Ruggs was involved in a car accident that resulted in the death of Tina Tintor, 23. He faces felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving, and if convicted could receive up to 46 years in prison. Ruggs, according to prosecutors, was driving 156 mph with a blood alcohol content twice Nevada’s legal limit when his 2020 Chevrolet Corvette slammed into the rear of Tintor’s 2013 Toyota Rav4, which burst into flames. He also could face a weapon charge for possessing a gun while under the influence, as he had a loaded gun in the car at the time of the crash.
The 2020 first-round draft pick was cut by the Raiders on Tuesday night.
Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia also spoke at the podium Wednesday and first read from a prepared statement.
“We want to express our sincere condolences to the victim’s family,” Bisaccia said. “A person lost their life yesterday morning, and we think it’s important to keep focus on that as we talk about this tragic event. We’re deeply saddened for everyone affected. Especially, the victim’s family.
“That being said, we love Henry Ruggs and want him to know that. It was a terrible lapse in judgment, of the most horrific kind. It’s something that he’ll have to live with the rest of his life. The gravity of the situation is not lost on anyone here and we understand and respect the loss of life.”
The Raiders had returned from their bye week with meetings and workouts on Monday, and Bisaccia said a “Unity Council Meeting” with 14 players including team captains was held to remind them of their responsibilities. The team, Bisaccia said, had talked about preventing things before they happen.
“But again, [Ruggs] put himself in a bad situation,” Bisaccia said, “made a choice that certainly altered his life.”
Tuesday was a scheduled off-day for the Raiders, but with “so much information” out there regarding Ruggs’ crash and arrest, Bisaccia held a team meeting via videoconference at 4 p.m. PT “so they could see our faces,” he said. “We wanted to give them the facts that we had at that particular time.”
Then, as the Raiders received more information — Ruggs’ speed, his blood alcohol, the nature of the fiery crash — the team released him. Another team meeting was held Wednesday morning to discuss the development.
“There’s two separate entities — there’s Henry Ruggs the football player, which is no longer a part of the Raiders, and then Henry Ruggs the person, who is certainly going through what he’s going through and is going to have to pay the consequences for the actions,” Bisaccia said.
“There’s no blueprint for this. There’s no handbook that they give you for the obstacles that … occur, whether you’re a parent, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re, you know, my dad drove a truck. There’s no blueprint for these things, and I just think we’ll all lean on each other.
“To be perfectly frank, I really don’t know if I can put into words the emotional feelings that … I went through. I just know for me, as a parent, and a person that cares about young people and deals with young people every day, I really don’t know if I could quantify what the emotions are.”
Ruggs’ college coach at Alabama, Nick Saban, expressed similar sentiments Wednesday.
“Our thoughts and prayers certainly go out to all involved in this tragic situation, especially the victims. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with them,” Saban said. “But our thoughts and prayers are also with Henry, his family, and I think this is something that a lot of folks can learn from.
“I think a lot of players on our team, when we say challenge people to make good choices and decisions, do the right thing, because sometimes the consequences can be devastating, and these consequences are gonna probably be pretty devastating to Henry. We love him, we’re gonna support him through it. But we also have a lot of compassion for the victims, and our thoughts and prayers are also with them.”
Bisaccia and Carr were the only Raiders to speak publicly Wednesday, and Carr also put Tintor’s family first. But on a personal level, he said, he was emotional when he walked by Ruggs’ locker Wednesday morning.
“For whatever reason, that got me. Like, like, he’s not going to be there,” Carr said, reiterating that he would miss him. “Not because he’s fast, not because of what he could do for me, but because of the person that he is and because I love him.
“This one hurts because, again, it really affects some families and it affected some lives. That hurts me, hurts my heart. Because I know there’s pain. I know there’s shame. I know that there’s anger, probably. All those feelings that no one wants to feel or have towards them, I know that it’s all there. That’s hard.”
ESPN’s Alex Scarborough contributed to this report.