Tim Brown Accuses Bill Callahan of Sabotaging Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

Former Oakland Raiders star wide receiver Tim Brown has created quite a stir by accusing former head coach Bill Callahan of sabotaging Super Bowl XXXVII.


UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 3:33 p.m. ET by Rob Goldberg

Bill Callahan is getting some support from one former player. Running back Terry Kirby told the Kup and Crowder Show that his coach did not throw the game:


Terry Kirby told us if Callahan sabotaged the Super Bowl, he definitely didn't do it on purpose. Didn't throw the game

— Kup & Crowder Show (@KupandCrowder) January 23, 2013


While unintentionally costing the team a championship is still not great, at least this would be better than doing it on purpose.

---End of update---


UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 10:18 a.m. ET by Brandon Galvin

Bill Callahan has denied the allegations that he sabotaged the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, according to the Associated Press via ESPN.com.

Former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan denied allegations made by two of his former players that he 'sabotaged' the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago, saying that he tried to win the game and that suggestions to the contrary were 'ludicrous and defamatory.'

...'While I fully understand a competitive professional football player's disappointment when a game's outcome doesn't go his team's way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown's allegations and Jerry Rice's support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours,' Callahan said Tuesday in a statement. 'To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations.'

Callahan called on the allegations against him to be taken back.

'Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicated my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans is flat-out wrong," he said. "I think it would be in the best interests of all, including the game America loves, that these allegations be retracted immediately.'

---End of update---


UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 4:48 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney

Jerry Rice, who was also a member of the Oakland Raiders during the 2003 Super Bowl, agrees with Brown's theory (via NFL on ESPN):

Jerry Rice just now on NFL LIVE "believes" Tim Brown's theory that Bill Callahan sabotaging Super Bowl XXXVII for the Raiders, to be TRUE.

— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 22, 2013

---End of update---


Back in 2003, Callahan led the Raiders through the postseason and into a Super Bowl matchup against a Jon Gruden-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. 

In what figured to be a tight game, Callahan and the Raiders were destroyed by the Bucs, 48-21.

Gruden had coached the Silver and Black from 1998-2001, going as far as the AFC Championship game in 2000. In all four of his years in Oakland, he worked alongside Callahan, the team's then-offensive coordinator.

Nearly a decade after their partnership ceased to exist in Oakland, a conspiracy theory has come to light.

Brown told Sirius XM NFL Radio (via Pro Football Talk) about what the Raiders' game plan was coming into Super Bowl XXXVII, and how Callahan suddenly changed it:

We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we're gonna run the ball. We averaged 340 (pounds) on the offensive line, they averaged 280 (on the defensive line). We're all happy with that, everybody is excited…

We all called it sabotage ... because Callahan and Gruden were good friends. And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders. You know, only came because Gruden made him come. Literally walked off the field on us a couple of times during the season when he first got there, the first couple years. So really he had become someone who was part of the staff but we just didn't pay him any attention. Gruden leaves, he becomes the head coach. ... It's hard to say that the guy sabotaged the Super Bowl. You know, can you really say that? That can be my opinion, but I can't say for a fact that that's what his plan was, to sabotage the Super Bowl. ... That's hard to say, because you can't prove it.

But the facts are what they are, that less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan.  And we go into that game absolutely knowing that we have no shot.  That the only shot we had if Tampa Bay didn’t show up.

Not everyone from the Raiders' Super Bowl squad was on board with Brown's comments. Former Raiders linebacker Bill Romanowski rejected Brown's bold claim (via ProFootballTalk.com):

I’m absolutely flabbergasted,” Romanowski told Tony Bruno and Jon Marks of 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.  “Is he trying to be relevant for the Super Bowl?  What is he trying to do?  He absolutely couldn’t be further from the truth.  So you’re saying that a man has a chance to cement himself in history with winning a Super Bowl and he wants to hand it over to his buddy?  Give me a break, OK?  It couldn’t be further from the truth.  He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And I’ll tell you what, I’m blown away that something like that would come out of an intelligent man’s mouth.”

Former Raiders quarterback and NFL MVP Rich Gannon also didn't believe Callahan had ill intentions (via NFL.com): 

"In terms of Bill Callahan, he's a good football coach. He's a good man. I don't think he would intentionally -- ever (not try to win.) Nor do I think anyone would ever. There was too much in it for all of us. There was too much vested in trying to become world champions. From a selfish perspective, we all wanted to win. I'm sure Bill Callahan was one of them," Gannon said.

It’s impossible to prove Brown's accusations of Callahan sabotaging the Super Bowl, but his story does have some merit.

Oakland was effective running the ball during the 2002-03 season, but the game plan against Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII did not feature a run-first mentality.

Gannon was 24-of-44 with five interceptions in the contest, while the Raiders rushed just 11 times as a team, gaining a total of 19 yards.

While it’s worth noting that Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins had also gone missing the day prior to the Super Bowl and did not play, the lack of a consistent rushing attack doomed the Raiders.

After opening up a 3-0 lead in the game's first four minutes, the Raiders allowed 34 unanswered points to the Bucs, effectively ending their title hopes. 

Brown has every right to have his opinion on the situation, but the nine-time Pro Bowler must now deal with the can of worms he has opened. With a Hall of Fame vote hanging in the balance (Brown is on the ballot for the fourth time this year), any voters on the fence in regards to Brown may be turned off by his controversial comments. 

For Brown, honesty may not prove to be the best policy.