Super Bowl XXXVII was known for being Jon Gruden‘s old team — the Raiders — against his new team — the Buccaneers. In the public’s eye, Gruden couldn’t go wrong with the results of the game. Either he built a Super Bowl winner, or he coached a Super Bowl winner. But if Tim Brown‘s allegations are true, it’s possible he really couldn’t go wrong with the results of the game.
The Raiders’ legendary wide receiver told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday that Oakland’s head coach at the time, Bill Callahan, sabotaged the team. He said Callahan had a certain game plan in place up until 36 hours before the game, and then changed it. He also alluded that that change is what could have pushed center Barrett Robbins, who disappeared the day before the Super Bowl after not taking his medication, off the deep end.
Brown said Callahan had planned a heavy rushing attack to battle Tampa Bay. Oakland had big, bruising running backs in Tyrone Wheatley and Zack Crockett, and an offensive line that Brown said averaged 340 pounds to the Buccaneers’ defensive line, which averaged 280-pounds. The game plan changed on Friday when Callahan told the team the new plan was to throw the ball 60 times.
“We all called it sabotage … because Callahan and 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 said the new game plan was toughest on Robbins, who would have to learn new calls at the line of scrimmage that he hadn’t prepared for. Brown said the team blamed Callahan for the loss, not Robbins’ disappearance.
In that game, the Raiders passed the ball 44 times and ran it only 11 times for 19 yards, including two carries by quarterback Rich Gannon. Gannon, who threw just 10 interceptions all season and had the best year of his career in 2002, threw five picks and just two touchdowns.
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