Raiders Great Tim Brown Alleges Head Coach Callahan Sabotaged '03 Super Bowl
***UPDATE*** Tim Brown went on NBC Sports' "Pro Football Talk" and said if he was forced to choose between whether Bill Callahan was "incompetent" or sabotaged the Super Bowl, he would have to choose the latter charge because Callahan, according to Brown, is an "offensive genius."
Tim Brown, the former Raiders great and wide receiver, implied that former Raiders head coach Bill Callahan hated the Raiders so much that he sabotaged the 2003 Super Bowl so his friend, Jon Gruden, who was Tampa Bay's head coach at the time, would win.
Brown said over the weekend that less than 36 hours before the game, Callahan changed the game plan without informing the players or consulting them. Brown said the Raiders intended to focus on the run during the game, but Callahan abruptly decided to pass the ball as often as possible. Tampa Bay won the game 48-21. Records indeed show the Raiders "attempted 44 passes and just 11 runs in the game."
“But the facts are what they are, that less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan," Brown said. "And we go into that game absolutely knowing that we have no shot. That the only shot we had (was) if Tampa Bay didn’t show up.”
Brown said Raiders players thought Callahan was engaging in "sabotage" because he was good friends with former Tampa Bay head coach John Gruden, whom Callahan had replaced in Oakland.
“We all called it sabotage ... because Callahan and Gruden were good friends. And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders. You know, (he) 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."
Brown also alleged Callahan's last-minute audible caused mercurial offensive lineman Barret Robbins to go AWOL the day before the Super Bowl.
“I’m not saying one had anything to do with the other,” Brown said. “All I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened Super Bowl week. So our ire wasn’t towards Barret Robbins, it was towards Bill Callahan. Because we feel as if he wouldn’t have did what he did, then Barret wouldn’t have done what he did.
Brown said Callahan made the decision "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," Brown said.
Brown, though, said he ultimately could not definitely prove Callahan sabotaged the Super Bowl but many players believed he did.
“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.
The following season after the alleged sabotage, the Radiers went 4-12 and Callahan was promptly fired.