Did Bill Callahan ‘Sabotage’ the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII?

So says longtime Raider Tim Brown:

Brown pins that loss on Gruden’s replacement, Bill Callahan, who allegedly changed the game plan less than 48 hours before the Super Bowl.

“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” Brown said last Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “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’.”

So he changed the game plan. Big deal. That’s what coaches do. But then Brown says this:

“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.”

I don’t buy it. I was a Raiders fan back then and watched every game that year. I gotta believe that Rich Gannon would have said something to Callahan about the change in the game plan if Gannon thought the team had no shot with the new plan. And for what it’s worth, Gannon is defending Callahan:

Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon does not agree with his old teammate Tim Brown about coach Bill Callahan sabotaging the team in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers.

Gannon said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he believes Callahan coached to win in Super Bowl XXXVII, when the Bucs beat the Raiders 48-21.

“In terms of Bill Callahan, let me just say this: He was a good football coach, he was a good man,” Gannon said. “We all wanted to win.”

Gannon made clear that he likes and respects Brown, but he doesn’t accept Brown’s version of events, which is that Callahan “hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl.”

As far as why the Raiders didn’t run the ball during the game, I trust the lack of a running game had more to do with their starting pro-bowl center — Barret Robbins — disappearing in Tijuana two days before the Super Bowl and never returning. 

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