ALAMEDA – There was a lull after the first question of Jack Del Rio’s Tuesday press conference, and the Raiders head coach broke the ice well.
“Aren’t you going to ask about Colton?” Del Rio said. “Nobody’s going to ask about Colton?...We have a celebrity in our midst.”
Del Rio’s referring to Raiders tight end Colton Underwood who found himself in the spotlight this weekend after asking United States gymnast Aly Raisman on a date via an online video gone viral in recent days.
The 22-year old Raisman, who won gold and silver medals in this month’s Olympic games, was filmed watching Underwood’s proposal and agreed to a date on social media.
The courtship has become a hot topic that put Underwood in the middle of a media scrum before Tuesday’s practice.
“I was just asking a girl on a date,” Underwood said. “It has turned into something much bigger.”
Underwood didn’t do so blindly. His connection was good friend and Raiders backup long snapper Andrew East, husband of former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who had discussed setting friend Raisman up with someone. Underwood was the recommendation.
He asked and Raisman said yes – they technically haven’t spoken in person yet – though the move has brought expected grief in the Raiders locker room. He got some props as well.
“I’m happy for him that she said yes,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “That’s a lonely place out there on a limb. She made a good decision there. I hope it works out.”
The Raiders are enjoying this preseason storyline, which has become bigger than Underwood imagined.
“It’s amazing how things get traction,” Del Rio said. “It was a young man doing what young men do and invited out a decorated Olympian, so it’s a great story. …I give him credit (for being bold). We like that in our guys.”