Tim Brown earned the nickname "Mr. Raider," for being the best player on the Oakland Raiders for nearly his entire career. It wasn’t until the end of his career that the Raiders were any good after Jon Gruden took over as the head coach. Oakland would eventually make a trip to the Super Bowl under Bill Callahan at the end of the 2002 season.
Brown is one of the finalists to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and suggested in an interview Saturday with SiriusXM radio (via NFL.com) that Callahan sabotaged the Raiders by changing the game plan on the Friday before the Super Bowl XXXVII. Brown openly called it a “conspiracy theory” when he shared the story in front of a group of fans last September.
Although Brown is entitled to his opinion, he’s actually sabotaging his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame by making these comments on a national radio show in the few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. The only thing Brown’s comments accomplish is to make clear of the fact that the Raiders had to overcome dysfunction to get to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Rich Gannon responded to Brown’s comments on SiriusXM radio (via soundcloud.com) by acknowledging that the Raiders had discussions about running the ball early in the week before the game, but that they weren’t really a running team and decided to do what they did best. Gannon said that the entire organization was responsible for losing the game and Callahan clearly wanted to win.
Fullback Jon Ritchie responded by text messaging Chris Mortensen of ESPN:
Former Raiders FB Jon Ritchie texts: "I've said it for years. What we practiced heavily during the week is not what we ran in (SB XXXVII)"— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 22, 2013
Ritchie (con'd): "Could have been due to Barrett (Robbins) absence. It was never explained to me." Jon mentioned he's said it several times.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 22, 2013
It’s clear that Brown wasn’t the only player who had problems with the way the game was handed by Callahan. Brown’s conspiracy theory might be ridiculous, but there was a lot more to the loss than just the starting center disappearing before the game.
Tim Brown took to Twitter to try to clarify his comments about Callahan:
Raider nation, in sure u r waking to the news of what unsaid about our last super bowl.. I just want u to know 2 things, comments where made— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) January 22, 2013
In support of Barrett, but absolutely NOT to hurt callahan.What I relayed is factual, I'm sure others will back me up when/if necessary..— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) January 22, 2013
Callahan clearly mishandled his players and the game plan in the days leading up to the game. Barrett Robbins ran off and the Raiders failed to change their plays even though they were playing a team that was coached by their former head coach and offensive mastermind, Jon Gruden.
Gannon acknowledged on SiriusXM that the Raiders made a mistake by not changing their verbiage and terminology.
“So much of our verbiage and terminology was a carryover from what Jon Gruden had installed in terms of our run checks, and so we were calling certain plays and guys like Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were calling out the runs,” Gannon said. “So it kind of took us out of our no-huddle plan at the line of scrimmage.”
The Raider Nation isn’t surprised because it’s just another example of what everyone knew was the case during and after the Raiders were stomped 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The loss sent the Raiders into a downward spiral for a decade and the team is still trying to recover.
Until the Raiders get back to the Super Bowl, the weeks leading up to the NFL’s biggest game will continue to be painful for the players, coaches and fans that endured that crushing loss in Super Bowl XXVII and the decade of losing since.