Don’t bring up the name Khalil Mack around Raiders coach Jon Gruden — he’s still sensitive.
Gruden returned to the team this past season for the first time since 2001 and quickly made headlines by trading away Mack.
Gruden stands by his decision, but the questions of why haven’t stopped.
“I get tired of you bringing that up, Khalil Mack,” Gruden told reporters at the NFL Combine on Thursday. “We made the trade for a lot of reasons — whether it was popular or not. We did what we had to do in that situation. The fans that aren’t happy, we’re really sorry about that. We really are truly sorry. And I’m sorry.”
Mack went on to Chicago and finished the regular season with 47 tackles, 12 1/2 sacks, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and one interception returned for a touchdown. His 12 1/2 sacks were the most by a Bears player since Richard Dent in 1993 and 12th best in the league.
The Bears went on to finish the year 12-5 after losing to the Eagles in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Raiders finished 4-12 — their worst record since 2014 — and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
“It’s hard to replace a guy like that,” Gruden said. “And it’s sensitive, man. I’m still sensitive about it. I’m happy for Mack. Shoot, I’m really thrilled for him and his future and all of that. He’s a hard guy to replace, and we’ll do everything we can.”