- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a stunning accusation of his former head coach, former Oakland Raiders star receiver Tim Brown told SiriusXM NFL Radio that former Oakland coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” the team before its 48-21 thrashing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl 10 years ago.
This story will never reach the level of the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal or the New England Patriots’ videotape scandal. In the end, it is just an old football player venting. Brown is a finalist to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 2; this is his fourth year of eligibility.
But because of Brown's stature, the magnitude of the Super Bowl, and the unique nature of his complaints, the story will be around for a while. Expect Brown’s words to put former teammates, Callahan, now a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach, and Callahan’s predecessor, Jon Gruden, in the spotlight for the next couple of days.
I’m sure we will hear denials and we may see some folks back up the often-outspoken Brown, who last week took shots at former Oakland offensive coordinator Marc Trestman when he was named the head coach in Chicago.
Via ProFootballtalk, Brown said this about Callahan in the radio interview
We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball, Brown said Saturday. 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] tell Charlie Garner, "Look, you’re not gonna get too many carries, but at the end of the day we’re gonna get a victory. Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, let’s get ready to blow this thing up."
We all called it sabotage .. because Callahan and [Tampa Bay coach Jon] Gruden were good friends, Brown said. 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. He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win 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.
Brown also said the switch had an effect on Oakland center Barret Robbins. He famously left the team shortly before the game and he did not play in the game.
Barret Robbins begged Coach Callahan, "Do not do this to me. I don’t have time to make my calls, to get my calls ready. You can’t do this to me on Friday. We haven’t practiced full speed, we can’t get this done."
Now, should Barret have manned up and tried to do it? Absolutely. But everybody knew Barret was unstable anyway. So to put him in that situation -- not that he was putting him in that situation -- but for that decision to be made without consulting the players the Friday before the Super Bowl? I played 27 years of football. The coaches never changed the game plan the Friday before the game. I’m not trying to point fingers at anybody here, all I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened. So people look at Barret and they say all these things, but every player in that locker room will tell you, "You’d better talk to Bill Callahan." Because if not for Coach Callahan, I don’t think we’re in that situation.
These are powerful accusations, but, again, there won’t be any real consequences. The Buccaneers will always be the winner of the game. The Raiders will always be the loser.
Brown did forget one key factor to all of this: the late Al Davis. He was heavily involved in every aspect of his team and I’m sure he was aware of the change. If he didn’t know, do you really think an owner known for having a quick hook when it came to his coaches would have kept Callahan if he thought the coach sabotaged his chance of winning another Super Bowl ring?
Nothing was more precious to Davis than winning the Super Bowl. He kept Callahan on as coach for one more season after the Super Bowl debacle. There is no way Davis would have kept Callahan if he thought he was disloyal.
With Brown making these comments, all we can do is wait and see if this is a royal case of mudslinging.