Did Bill Callahan Sabotage the Oakland Raiders?

Chris TrapassoAnalyst IJanuary 22, 2013

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 24:  Bill Callahan head coach of the AFC Champion Oakland Raiders answers questions during a press conference on January 24, 2003 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. The Oakland Raiders will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Superbowl XXXVII on Sunday January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

There is no way an NFL head coach would sabotage his team in a Super Bowl. 


Well, according to legendary wide receiver Tim Brown, Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan sabotaged his team by changing the game plan on the Friday prior to Super Bowl XXXVII, a game in which Oakland ultimately lost 48-21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  

When it comes to the Oakland Raiders, anything is possible. Nothing that apparently occurred during the Al Davis era should be completely ruled out, that's for sure. 

After the video of Brown's rather adamant stance on this controversial topic began to circulate, obviously, the media began to ask more questions and wanted accounts from other players on that team. 

ESPN's Chris Mortensen received a few text messages from former Oakland fullback Jon Ritchie:

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

Quite obviously, Brown isn't totally unsubstantiated in his claim. 

Quarterback Rich Gannon spoke on SiriusXM radio (via soundcloud.com) and first called Brown one of "most prepared, most detailed, most dependable players" he played with in his 17 years in the NFL. 

He later stated that early preparation for the Buccaneers led the team to believe "being physical and running the football" would be the best way to beat Tampa despite that not really being "who the Raiders were that year."

Gannon admitted that Oakland didn't change the verbiage and terminology at the line of scrimmage and that most of it was "a carry-over from what Jon Gruden had installed."

The former MVP went on to say, "there was a culture, at that time, in Oakland, that made it very difficult to compete for championships."

In other words, dysfunction at its finest.

Gannon did end his radio spot essentially saying he did not believe Callahan or anyone sabotaged the Super Bowl in any way.  

Per ProFootballTalk, former Raiders offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy said the following to 95.7 The Game in San Francisco:

Gruden gave them our complete playbook, our checks, they knew what we were doing,” Kennedy said.  “They knew where we were going.  That’s how they were able to have so many interceptions for touchdowns.  Because honestly that was the difference in the football game.

However, Brown got an important corroboration on NFL Live on Tuesday afternoon. Jerry Rice, a member of that Raiders team, fully backed Brown's claims regarding Callahan's sabotage, citing the odd game plan change on the Friday before the Super Bowl. 

With a few players on each side of this increasingly interesting controversy, the "sabotage" appears to be more personal opinion than anything else. 

Something tells me though, that the opinions of Brown and Rice will carry significant weight.

Will we ever know Callahan's true intentions? 

Eh, probably not. 

But there certainly seems to be a considerable amount of evidence that Callahan wasn't exactly preparing his team to the best of his ability before that Super Bowl.