Khalil Mack on playing Raiders: 'It's no big deal to me'

Two seasons and more than 5,000 miles from Oakland, Khalil Mack gets his reunion with the Raiders.

Traded from the Raiders to the Bears shortly before the genesis of the 2018 season, Mack instantly changed the narrative in Chicago, as the team went from worst to first and claimed the NFC North title. In his wake, the Raiders are still searching for a pass rush and will get reintroduced to what one looks like Sunday when Oakland hosts Chicago at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Though it's a safe wager that Mack will do everything in his ability to prevent his old team from having a jolly good time across the pond, he's doing his best to downplay his first game against the Silver and Black.

"It's another game, man," Mack said via ESPN. "It's going to be a fun one because I know a few of the guys out there. But it's going to be a good one. Can't wait.

"You can't play this game with too much emotion, man. Ultimately, I try to stay focused on the task at hand and understanding the situation and understanding what they're going to be thinking that I feel. But ultimately, I'm going to go out there and do what I do -- and that's play football and love the game that I play, you know what I mean?"

In exchange for two first-round picks (in 2019 and another ahead in 2020) and some additional compensation, the Raiders moved Mack to the Bears. The deal was largely believed to have come to fruition because coach Jon Gruden and the Raiders didn't want to pay Mack the mega deal he was looking for and got immediately from Chicago (in the very high-class neighborhood of six years, $141 million).

Mack's trade to Chicago was the first of three by Gruden's Raiders that have gone on to send shockwaves through the NFL, as they later dealt Amari Cooper to the Cowboys during the 2018 season and, after it, acquired Antonio Brown from the Steelers for a brief, but oh-so bumpy stay.

Mack had all the hopes that he would be a Raider for the duration of his career, but stressed that's what most players hope will happen when they're drafted.

"That's the expectation when you get drafted to a team: You want to be there for the long haul and bring championships and all those good things," said Mack, who was taken fifth overall by the Raiders in 2014. "It's the business side of it that doesn't really let you do that."

While one could argue Mack is perhaps holding back in regards to his emotions of playing his former squad, it's a more arduous task to argue numbers and they play out overwhelmingly in Mack's favor.

Since he was shipped to Chi-Town, his dominance has been immediate and emphatic, while the Raiders' pass rush has been borderline non-existent.

Per NFL Research, Mack's 82 quarterback pressures since 2018 are second in the NFL for an individual player, while the Raiders' 80 as an entire team are dead last. In his time with the Bears, Mack has racked up 17 sacks (second in the NFL), while the Raiders without Mack have 18 -- last in the NFL in that span. Yes, since Mack left the Raiders, he's had one less sack than the Raiders franchise in that same time.

During his days in Oakland, Mack produced 40.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and three Pro Bowl trips. He certainly hasn't slowed down in Chicago, as he's become the face of a new-age Monsters of the Midway and currently is penning one of his most dominant chapters yet with a league-high four forced fumbles in four games to go with 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles.

Indeed, a much-ballyhooed reunion is approaching, even if it is across the pond on another continent. Mack will get to see old friend Derek Carr, though Carr is likely hoping to see his buddy as seldom as possible until after the final whistle.

While Mack is hesitant to play up the magnitude of playing his former team, he's quick to speak on how happy he is to be with his current team.

"There are feelings you suppress," Mack said of being traded from the Raiders. "But also, it's no big deal to me, man. I'm here. I love the Bears and I'm going to go out and try to get this win.

"I mean, you could talk all day, man. But I ain't a talker. I just want to go out and show it. And I'm going to let that be that."

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