- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The NFL world was waiting for Bill Callahan to respond to serious allegations levied against him by former Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown.
Tuesday night, Callahan -- now an assistant coach in Dallas -- came back with a response in a long statement. This wasn’t a typical stale, robotic statement. Callahan expressed deep sadness and anger -- and used a couple of legal buzzwords as well.
Brown suggested that Callahan "sabotaged" the Raiders' chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII. Brown said Callahan essentially tanked the game because he wanted his good friend and former Oakland coach Jon Gruden, in his first season in Tampa Bay, to win. The Buccaneers won 48-21. ESPN analyst Jerry Rice backed Brown's claims based on Callahan changing the game plan late in the week before the Super Bowl. A number of Oakland players, including former quarterback Rich Gannon, have taken Callahan's side.
Here is Callahan’s statement via ESPNDallas.com:
“There are many people who are disappointed by the outcome of Super Bowl XXVII, but none more than me. 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.
"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 involved the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory.
"I have always honored the spirit of competition that drives us to sport as children and, for the lucky few, sustains us in adulthood. Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicate 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.
"I want to extend my personal and my family’s deep appreciation to the coaches, players and fans that have come forward and thoughtfully spoken out against these ill-conceived allegations.”
The fact that Callahan used the word “defamatory” and asked for the allegations to be “retracted immediately” leaves open the question of whether Callahan plans legal action. Unless Brown can prove his allegations in a court of law, Brown could have created a headache for himself.
Now that Callahan has struck back hard, it will be interesting to see if Brown continues to make the claims or if he backs off.
3hEric D. Williams