Former Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan issued a statement to ESPN on Tuesday denying allegations from wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice that he "sabotaged" the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
"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. "To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations."
In a Saturday interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Brown suggested that Callahan had "sabotaged" the Raiders' efforts to win that game by altering the game plan on Friday, going from a run-heavy game plan during the week to pass-heavy play-calling against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who boasted the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense against the pass. Brown also suggested that Callahan may have done so due his loyalties to Jon Gruden, the Raiders' head coach from 1998-2001 before leaving the organization to coach the Buccaneers, and that Callahan "hated" the Raiders' organization.
Former Raiders fullback Jon Ritchie, a former analyst at ESPN, has confirmed that the Raiders' offensive approach in Super Bowl XXXVII differed from what the game plan that had been implemented. Rice, who played on that Raiders team, supported Brown's comments during an appearance on ESPN's "NFL Live" program on Tuesday.
"I was very surprised that he waited till 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 just a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,' " Rice said on Tuesday.
As Shutdown Corner noted on Tuesday, the Raiders, who led the NFL in total and passing offense during the 2002 regular season, had just 19 rushing yards on 11 attempts against the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders offensive line struggled to establish the run against an undersized Buccaneers defensive front as Pro Bowl and All-Pro center Barrett Robbins was inactive after going AWOL two nights before the game. The Raiders were forced to start Adam Treu at center, a reserve who had logged just two offensive snaps during the regular season, according to official playing-time documents.
"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," said Callahan, who currently works as the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. "I think it would be in the best interests of all, including the game America loves, that these allegations be retracted immediately."
Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, who was intercepted five times by the Buccaneers, three of which were returned for touchdowns, disagrees with the assertions that Callahan "sabotaged" the Raiders.
"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," Gannon said on his show with Adam Schein on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "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."
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