Former Raiders coach Bill Callahan denied an accusation from former player Tim Brown — and supported by another former player, Jerry Rice — that he "sabotaged" the team's Super Bowl XXXVII chances against the Bucs by changing the game plan late in the preparation process.
Brown said Saturday that the game plan given to the team the Monday before the January 2003 Super Bowl, which the Bucs won 48-21, called for a run-heavy attack. But Brown said Callahan changed to a pass-heavy approach the following Friday.
Brown alleged Callahan so hated the organization for which he worked that he wanted his friend, Bucs coach Jon Gruden, to win the game instead. In a statement he released late Tuesday, Callahan, now a Cowboys assistant, said he was "shocked" at the allegation.
"While I fully understand a competitive professional football player's disappointment when a game's outcome doesn't go his team's way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown's allegations and Jerry Rice's support of those allegations," the statement read.
"Like every game I ever coached on the professional or collegiate level, I endeavor to the best of my professional ability to position my team to win. To suggest otherwise … is ludicrous and defamatory. I think it would be in the best interests of all, including the game America loves, that these allegations be retracted immediately."
On Wednesday, Brown backed off his allegation, denying he used the word "sabotage."
"I never called it sabotage," he said (contradicting himself after saying Saturday, "We all called it sabotage.")
"I wouldn't say that because that's not something I would ever have knowledge about. But I have to say the word was thrown around not just by myself … right after the game."
Rich Gannon, the Raiders' quarterback in the Super Bowl, said he does not agree with Brown and Rice, adding the game plan was not changed.
"We came out and tried to run the football early in that game," Gannon said. "We didn't have a lot of success. We fell behind, and at that point we started throwing the ball too much."
The Raiders, who trailed 20-3 at halftime, ran it 11 times (for 19 yards) and threw it 44 times.
Callahan's new co-worker, former Bucs defensive coordinator and now Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, said little when asked about the controversy.
"I have no comment on that. I want to stay away from that," Kiffin said.
"I would like to think that we played pretty good that day."