The Oakland Raiders lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII in January of 2003, 48-21. I don’t know about you, but I certainly could not have predicted that ten years later, that game would be the main topic of conversation in the sports world. Earlier this week, former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown, who retired after the 2004 season, claimed that then-Raiders head coach Bill Callahan had “sabotaged” the team in order to let his friend Jon Gruden win the game. Gruden had coached the Raiders through the previous season before leaving for Tampa, and Callahan, who had been Oakland’s Offensive Coordinator, took over as head coach. This is definitely one of the oddest accusations I have seen in a long time.
Brown was being interviewed on SiriusXM when he made these statements. The crux of his argument was that Callahan changed the gameplan a couple of days before the game, ditching the plan to run the ball a lot and replacing it with a pass-heavy scheme. The fact that the Raiders had been a pass-heavy team all year apparently did not factor into Brown’s opinion. Here is some of what he said:
“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.
That is some wacky stuff right there. Brown has been right on the edge of election into the NFL Hall of Fame for the last couple of years, and something like this seems far more likely to hurt his candidacy than help it. I can’t imagine what his motivation was to say any of this, especially so far after the fact. Several of his teammates, including Lincoln Kennedy, Rich Gannon, and Bill Romanowski have spoken out to disagree with Brown’s take on things. There seems to be a general agreement that the gameplan changed, but the idea of it being an attempt to throw the game is not one they share, with Romanowski going so far as to accuse Brown of flat-out lying. Callahan himself took offense, as expected, and obviously disagreed with his former player’s opinion. Perhaps the biggest surprise in all of this is that Jerry Rice, arguably the best receiver in the history of the league, is the one former teammate of Brown’s who agrees with him. Rice is about as highly respected as any player ever, and his support gave the statement a whole different dimension. Despite that, Brown did backtrack a bit later in the week, softening his statements somewhat.
As a football fan, I find all of this really silly. The idea that a head coach would intentionally lose the biggest game in the sport in order to let his friend win is simply stupid, and certainly not true. Any changes to the gameplan, whether well thought-out or not, were certainly made in an attempt to maximize the team’s strengths in this particular matchup. Tim Brown would have been much better served by keeping his thoughts to himself in this case.
Bad sports, continued:
2) Trent Cole, a defensive end for the Philadelphia Eagles and a hunting enthusiast, pulled out of an appearance at the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show after the organizers decided to ban sales of assault weapons at the event. The entire show was later canceled after more people protested the ban. So wait, did I get this right? A giant gun show won’t happen? Sounds like a great outcome to me.
3) New England Patriots defensive back Derrick Martin’s home was robbed last weekend while he was playing in the AFC championship game.
4) This item was originally ticketed for Good Sports. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker’s wife Anna went after Ray Lewis on Twitter after the Pats lost to the Ravens last Sunday night, complaining about the league putting a big promotional push behind Lewis, who is set to retire after the season, despite his criminal past. The item has ended up in Bad Sports because she later apologized for her comments.
5) Jay Ratliff, a defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys, become the latest NFL player to be arrested for drunk driving on Tuesday, after he crashed his pickup into a semi.
6) Eden Hazard, a forward for Chelsea, got kicked out of a match against Swansea on Wednesday after he actually kicked at a ball boy whom he felt was moving too slowly in returning the ball to him after the ball went out-of-bounds. Classy.
7) The Duke basketball team went into its game against Miami on Wednesday ranked first in the country. The Blue Devils proceeded to be destroyed by the Hurricanes by a score of 90-63. It was an absolutely stunning result.
8) Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams was pulled from the Pro Bowl this weekend after he was hurt in a fight at a Honolulu night club that included him being hit over the head with a bottle and being tasered.
1) Mike and Bob Bryan set a record on Saturday when they won their 13th major doubles title by winning the Australian Open, beating Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling to win their sixth Aussie title. That’s amazing.
2) Speaking of the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic won his third straight title there on Sunday, beating Andy Murray in four sets.
3) The U.S. Bobsled Team won a gold medal in the combined bobsled-skeleton event at the world championships in Switzerland on Sunday. Most notable about this is that the duo in women’s bobsled portion of the competition included Lolo Jones, best known as a hurdler for the U.S. team. This was her first medal in her new sport.
4) For better or for worse, it looks like Tiger Woods may be back. The first PGA tour event of the season is not quite over as of this writing, but Tiger is lapping the field at Torrey Pines, leading by six strokes over second place Brandt Snedeker when play was suspended for darkness on Sunday evening.
Bad sports, good sports appears every Monday
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