Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan has denied allegations made by two of his previous players that he ‘’sabotaged” the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago.
Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the plan less than a couple of days before Oakland’s 48-21 loss.
”While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I’m shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s claims and Jerry Rice’s support of those claims made through various media outlets during the past 24 hours,” Callahan recounted in a press release. ”To leave doubtless, I categorically and unquestionably deny the sum and substance of their allegations.”
The hubbub over a game played a decade ago started when Brown related that he believed Callahan changed the game strategy because of his close ties to Gruden, the previous Raiders coach who hired Callahan, and because Callahan hated the Raiders.
”We all called it sabotage, because Callahan and Gruden was good friends, and Callahan had a difficult issue with the Raiders, hated the Raiders, and only came because Gruden made him come,” Brown related.
While many of Brown’s colleagues, including QB Rich Gannon, came to Callahan’s defense on radio and social media, Rice sided with Brown that Callahan’s call to shift the general plan from a run-oriented attack to a pass-heavy offense after a week of practice was done to hurt the team.
”I was surprised that he waited until the last second and I think a lot of the players they were surprised also so in a way maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders he decided ‘Hey look maybe we should sabotage a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,”’ Rice asserted.
Former Raiders offensive lineman Frank Middleton declared in a telephone interview that he didn’t believe Callahan’s change in game plan contributed to Robbins’ problems or that Callahan purposely lost the game regardless of if there were bad feelings between the coach and players. Odds
Middleton acknowledged that the plan the team used in the game was different than what was practiced but stated that he didn’t know if that was because Robbins had left the team and the Raiders were forced to use backup center Adam Treu.
The Raiders threw a then club-record 619 passes in the 2002 season but originally planned to run the ball more in the Super Bowl to use Tampa Bay’s small defensive front. But Oakland fell behind early in the game and had 49 pass plays and a season-low 11 runs.
Gannon threw 5 interceptions, including 3 returned for touchdowns, in the lopsided loss.
Callahan, currently the offensive line coach for the Cowboys, said he tried to win the game and suggestions to the contrary were ”ludicrous and defamatory.”