Former Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan, after hearing two of his former players claim he tried to tank a Super Bowl, denied the accusation Tuesday night.
A day after news broke that former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown accused Callahan of sabotaging the team's chances in Super Bowl XXXVII against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and hours after Brown's then-teammate Jerry Brown backed the allegation, Callahan issued a statement that gave his side of the story.
"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 twenty four hours," wrote Callahan, who is now the Dallas Cowboys' offensive coordinator. "To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations. Like every game I ever coached on the professional or collegiate level, I endeavor to the best of my professional ability to position my team to win. To suggest otherwise, especially at this time when it involves the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory. ...
"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. I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately."
Brown based his criticism on Callahan changing the team's game plan two days before the Super Bowl, deciding to emphasize passing over running. He theorized that Callahan disliked the Raiders and wanted to allow his friend, Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, to beat Oakland.
On Tuesday, Rice echoed Brown's remarks. "For some reason -- and I don't know why -- Bill Callahan did not like me," Rice said on ESPN. "In a way, maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided, 'Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.'"
Rich Gannon and Bill Romanowski disagreed with Brown and Rice.
Gannon, the Raiders' quarterback who won the NFL's MVP award in 2002, said on SiriusXM, "In terms of Bill Callahan, let me just say this: He was a good football coach, he was a good man. We all wanted to win. ...
"I think that what happened was that we came out and tried to run the football early in that game. We didn't have a lot of success. We fell behind and at that point we started throwing the ball too much."
Romanowski, a former linebacker, disputed Brown's theory, calling his accusations "complete crap."
"He absolutely couldn't be further from the truth," Romanowski said on WPEN-FM in Philadelphia. "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."