Super Bowl sabotage? Tim Brown drops ball on this one

To sum it all up, this is what the former Raiders receivers have to say about a Super Bowl that has been over for 10 years.

Wah.

Also, waah.

And furthermore, waaaah.

Any questions?

If you have not heard, Tim Brown rattled a lot of cages over the past few days when he suggested, more or less, that the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII because then-Raiders coach Bill Callahan took a dive. Otherwise, the suggestion was, the Bucs wouldn't have won the game 48-21. Who knows? If Oakland had been coached a little better, the Bucs might have won only by about 45-21.

It was an outrageous accusation, of course. It was silly and absurd and petulant and reckless. It was one of those suggestions you could toss away as soon as you finished laughing.

And then, Jerry Rice agreed with him.

And it sounded a little less like it was time for the Wack-a-Doodle Hour on your radio dial.

Look, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy. I don't care if it's about the Kennedy assassination or the moon landings or whether Manti Te'o might find his next girlfriend in Narnia. Back when the late Bubba Smith was suggesting that Super Bowl III might have been fixed, I was listening to every word.

This time? The word "hooey" comes to mind.

Let's see. Callahan was willing to "sabotage" the Super Bowl because he was such good friends with Bucs coach Jon Gruden. Really?

"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.

"He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win the Super Bowl."

Speaking to ESPN, Rice pretty much said "ditto."

"Maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided, 'Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,' " Rice said.

Think about those comments: A football coach has a chance to win a Super Bowl, and he says, "Nah, I'll let the other team win it. And if Gruden wants my wallet and my watch, heck, he can have that, too."

To buy into that means that you believe that winning a Super Bowl didn't matter to Callahan. His personal legacy — or his paycheck — didn't matter. Celebrating with players he had worked with for four years didn't matter. According to Brown, it was all about this: Just lose, baby.

For the record, former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon disagreed with his former receivers. Former linebacker Bill Romanowski called it "crap."

Brown's evidence? He says Callahan changed the game plan on Friday before the Super Bowl. He said the Raiders originally planned to come in behind a powerhouse running attack because their offensive line was bigger than the Bucs' defensive line. Instead, they decided they would throw the ball.

Perhaps that's true. And perhaps this is, too: If that Raiders team had tried to stop throwing and run the ball against that Bucs team, the Super Bowl might have been even more lopsided.

In the regular season, the Raiders were the No. 1 passing offense in the league behind Gannon, the 40-year-old Rice and the 36-year-old Brown. Running? They were only 18th in the league. It would have been lunacy for Callahan to abandon the pass and turn his team into a running team for the Super Bowl.

It is true that the Raiders had a size advantage on their offensive line. Heck, in those days, most teams had a size advantage on the Bucs, who nevertheless were the No. 1 defense in the league. The Raiders had some big linemen, but they were forgettable players such as Frank Middleton and Barry Sims and Mo Collins. The Bucs wouldn't have traded Warren Sapp (or Simeon Rice, for that matter) for the lot of them.

Now, here's a number for you. During that game, the Raiders ran the ball 11 times. They averaged 1.7 yards per carry. They gained 19 yards.

In other words, it didn't matter what the game plan was. Sooner or later, the Raiders were going to have to abandon the run and throw, because they were so clearly outmanned. It was 20-3 by the half. It was 34-9 after three quarters.

In other words, this wasn't a close game that was decided by a coach's blueprint. This was a four-touchdown rout. This game was out of Callahan's hands; it's like the British blaming the defeat at Yorktown on their cook.

In a way, Brown did Bucs fans a favor. He reminded them just how much fun that Super Bowl was 10 years ago. He reminded them of just how completely that defense smothered a very good offense. He gave them that same feeling of superiority that has been missing since that night.

In some ways, he let Tampa Bay win that Super Bowl all over again.

On the other hand, he raised a little blood pressure, too.

He didn't mean to, he said. Speaking on a radio show that is hosted by Booger McFarland (who was injured for that game) and Rich Herrera on 98.7-FM. Brown said he meant no disrespect to Tampa Bay.

Brown should know better. He played here in 2004 (more precisely, he fair-caught punts here). He knows what a jewel that trophy was for Bucs fans. For someone to suggest the Bucs didn't win it on the up-and-up is bound to offend some people.

Oh, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if the Raiders receivers disliked their head coach, and it doesn't matter if they choose to blame him for the loss. Losing players do that all the time.

In sports, all that matters is the result. And the scoreboard. And the trophy case. Everything else just sounds like a losing team crying.

Just whine, baby.

Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

Brooks, Sapp: Bucs earned title

TAMPA — Last month, Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks and his teammates celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 48-21 Super Bowl XXXVII win over the Oakland Raiders. They passed around the Lombardi Trophy. It hadn't been tarnished.

Brooks said Tuesday he does not believe that allegations by Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice, who said Oakland coach Bill Callahan sabotaged their Super Bowl hopes by changing the game plan, should diminish the Bucs' crown in any way.

"No disrespect to Tim and Jerry and how they felt about their coach," Brooks said. "That is not my business. But the tape and the scoreboard speaks for all of us on that Super Bowl winning team."

Some Raiders, such as fullback Jon Ritchie, confirmed the game plan was changed two days before the Super Bowl from a running to a passing attack, but quarterback Rich Gannon refuted the conspiracy theory.

"Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were calling out the runs," Gannon told the San Francisco Chronicle. "So it kind of took us out of our no-huddle plan."

In a text message to the Times, Sapp ridiculed Brown's assertions: "Wonder if Tim Brown knows who was behind the grassy knoll?"

Later, referring to the Bucs' NFC title game win over the Eagles that season, Sapp tweeted, "I know they say every year the fish gets bigger, but wow. … Does Tim Brown have any idea if Reid and McNabb threw the NFC champ game that year, too?"

Rick Stroud, Times staff writer

Super Bowl sabotage? Tim Brown drops ball on this one 01/22/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 11:53pm]

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