What best friends Derek Carr and Khalil Mack are looking forward to when they meet in London

For the first time, best friends Derek Carr and Khalil Mack will oppose each other on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
For the first time, best friends Derek Carr and Khalil Mack will oppose each other on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. AP Photos

Whether it was playing pool-basketball or sprinting against each other, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack quickly forged a bond when they were rookies with the Oakland Raiders.

Mack and Carr each came to Oakland in the 2014 NFL Draft. They were teammates for three seasons before the Raiders traded Mack to the Chicago Bears last year.

For the first time, they will oppose each other when Oakland meets Chicago at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on Sunday.

“It’s special, man. That’s my brother,” Mack said this week. “I love him, but it’s going to be fun to compete against him.”

Carr said, “We’re still buddies, but we’ll still both punch each other.”

They did a lot of competing on the practice field in Oakland, Carr said. He enjoyed the camaraderie with Mack, whether it was during practice or elsewhere.

“Sitting in the team meeting room, he’s always sitting right across from me, right in the front row,” he said. “We eat, we’re sitting together. We’re on the practice field, I’m talking trash to him and he’s coming by and slapping me when he gets a sack.”

Raider time with a vision in mind

Carr and Mack said they had a plan together in what they wanted to accomplish with the Raiders.

They knew about the struggles the franchise had since 2002. A long playoff drought and sub-.500 records along the way except in 2010 and 2011 when the Raiders went 8-8 in both seasons.

In 2013, the Raiders went 4-12 and were locked in at the No. 5 spot in the 2014 NFL Draft. Oakland selected Mack in the first round, Carr in the second round.

The pair of rookies quickly arrived at a common vision.

“We were trying to change the culture,” Mack said. “Just going through that process together was real special.”

Their Raiders tenure started 0-10, but Oakland was 7-9 the following season and 12-4 with a playoff appearance in 2016.

“We were trying to change a culture and we did,” Carr said. “We really started to change it. We went back to the playoffs for the first time in however many years.”

Competitive minds

Even as teammates, Carr and Mack always were competitive against each other. Their times playing pool-basketball were particularly epic, and Carr takes delight in claiming he dunked on Mack.

Then there was the time when Carr interrupted Mack’s initial news conference and asked, “Who’s faster?”

At the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Mack’s best time was 4.65 seconds in the 40-yard dash and Carr was clocked at 4.69.

Mack knows the type of competitor Carr is and is looking forward to seeing his best friend on the same field.

“That’‘s ultimately going to be the fun part as well as competing against that guy,” Mack said. “I know what type of competitor he is. He’s the ultimate competitor, and I know he’s going to have something up his sleeve. I want to make sure I’m ready for it.”

Carr said he’ll be ready for Mack, as well, and knows the mentality he brings.

But Carr reminded reporters he will have that same mentality.

“That’s my brother,” he said. “I love him to death, everyone knows that. He’s one of my best friends. We’ll be friends when we are all old and hopefully him with kids. I’m trying to nudge him in that direction.

“But this week it’s different. We are competing against each other, so it’s back to the pool-basketball mentality for me.”

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.