Raiders fill final coaching vacancy


Raiders coach Dennis Allen rounded out his coaching staff by hiring Bob Sanders as his linebackers coach Friday.
Sanders spent the past four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, where he coached the defensive line one season and linebackers the final three.
Overall, Sanders has 33 years’ coaching experience in college and the NFL. He also coached for the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins, including a three-year stint as the Packers defensive coordinator from 2006-08.
Allen fired four coaches the day after the regular season ended – offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, offensive line coach Frank Pollack, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach Johnny Holland.
Earlier this month, Allen hired Greg Olson to replace Knapp, Bobby April to take over for Hoffman and Tony Sparano as his new offensive line coach.


Raiders confirm hiring of Sparano


The Raiders hired Tony Sparano as an assistant head coach/offensive line coach Wednesday.
Sparano replaces Frank Pollack, who was fired by the Raiders after one season. He spent the 2012 season as the New York Jets offensive coordinator before being fired soon after the season ended.
Sparano will be tasked with converting the Raiders offensive line from the zone-blocking scheme to a power-blocking scheme.
He got his first NFL coaching job in 1999 and spent the 2008-11 seasons as the Miami Dolphins head coach.
Coach Dennis Allen now has filled all but the linebackers coach vacancy on his staff. Earlier, he hired Greg Olson to be his offensive coordinator and Bobby April as his special teams coordinator.
Here is the Raiders release on Sparano’s background:

Former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano will join the Raiders as assistant head coach/offensive line, Head Coach Dennis Allen announced Wednesday.

The addition of Sparano, who joins the Raiders after spending the 2012 season as N.Y. Jets offensive coordinator, leaves only one vacancy on Oakland’s staff, linebackers coach. Sparano will begin his duties with the Raiders at Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, Ala., where Oakland is coaching the North squad before Saturday’s game.

Sparano, who in 2013 enters his 30th year in coaching, has nine combined seasons as a head coach, four (2008-11) at the reins of the Miami Dolphins and five (1994-98) at the University of New Haven.

Prior to his season with the Jets in 2012, Sparano compiled some impressive accomplishments in his first season as Dolphins head coach, a position he held from 2008-11. In ’08, he steered Miami to the greatest year-to-year improvement in NFL history, a 10-game difference as the Dolphins earned the AFC East crown with an 11-5 record, before losing in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Sparano finished one vote shy of winning the Associated Press Coach of the Year. His career record as an NFL head coach is 29-33.

Sparano helped the Cowboys to three playoff appearances and four winning seasons in five years (2003-07) on the Dallas staff, including four under head coach Bill Parcells. Sparano tutored the tight ends from 2003-04, then served as offensive line coach/running-game coordinator from 2005-06, before shifting to assistant head coach/offensive line in 2007.

Prior to two one-year stops as a tight ends coach, with Marty Schottenheimer’s Redskins in 2001 and Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars in 2002, Sparano helped launch the expansion Cleveland Browns. In 1999, Cleveland’s first year back in the NFL, Sparano was an offensive quality-control coach. He spent 2000 in charge of the Browns’ offensive line.

Sparano made the jump to the NFL after five years as head coach (1994-98) of his alma mater, Division II New Haven, where he guided the Chargers to a pair of NCAA playoff berths. In 1997, his 12-2 club led the country in scoring offense (42.8 points per contest) and ranked second in scoring defense (11.6) before it lost in the national championship.

He spent the previous six seasons (1988-93) at Division I-AA Boston University, coaching the Terriers’ offensive linemen from 1988-89 before serving as offensive coordinator from 1990-93.

A native of West Haven, Conn., Sparano launched his coaching career at New Haven, a four-year stint (1984-87) as offensive line coach, after completing his college playing days at the school, as the team’s center.

He and his wife, Jeanette, have three children, sons Tony and Andrew, who each played football at Albany, and daughter Ryan Leigh.

Years College/Pro Team Position Coached

1984-87 New Haven Offensive Line

1988 Boston University Offensive Line

1989 Boston University Offensive Coordinator

1994-98 New Haven Head Coach

1999 Cleveland Browns Offensive Quality Control

2000 Cleveland Browns Offensive Line

2001 Washington Redskins Tight Ends

2002 Jacksonville Jaguars Tight Ends

2003-04 Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends

2005-06 Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line/Running Game Coordinator

2007 Dallas Cowboys Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line

2008-11 Miami Dolphins Head Coach

2012 New York Jets Offensive Coordinator

2013 Oakland Raiders Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line


Callahan takes umbrage with Brown’s accusation


Here’s the story filed by beat writer Jerry McDonald about former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown saying that former coach Bill Callahan, in effect, sabotaged the Raiders’ chances of beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season. The story contains a portion of Callahan’s response to Brown’s strong assertion:

If memories of being pummeled by Jon Gruden in Super Bowl XXXVII weren’t painful enough for former Raiders coach Bill Callahan, there is now this: former players implying that he might have sabotaged his own team in the 48-21 loss to Tampa Bay.

Tim Brown, the Raiders’ nine-time Pro Bowl selection and third-time nominee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said Monday on Sirius XM Radio that he believed Callahan “sabotaged” the Super Bowl by altering the game plan 36 hours before kickoff. Brown based his claim, on part, because of the relationship Callahan shared with Gruden, who had hired Callahan to be the Raiders offensive coordinator.

“We all called it sabotage, because Callahan and Gruden was good friends,

Tim Brown (81) says former Raiders coach Bill Callahan may have sabotaged Oakland’s chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII against Tampa Bay 10 years ago. (AP Photo/Mike Fiala) and Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, hated the Raiders, and only came because Gruden made him come,” Brown said.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, speaking by phone with ESPN on Tuesday, sided with Brown, adding, “I was very surprised he waited until the last second and a lot of the players, they were surprised also. So, in a way, maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders he decided that, ‘Hey, look, maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win one.’ ”

Callahan, who currently is the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, released a statement Tuesday night, saying, “I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations.




suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicated my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans, is flat out wrong,” Callahan said in the statement. “I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately.”

Brown said Callahan’s game-plan switch left center Barret Robbins so disturbed it may have been the catalyst to his infamous trip to Mexico on

Former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan, (Jim Gensheimer/Mercury News) Friday, returning in a haze of alcohol and mental illness the night before the game.

Other players on the 2002 team rebutted Brown in various radio interviews, including quarterback Rich Gannon, linebacker Bill Romanowski, offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy and fullback Zach Crockett, who is on the Raiders’ scouting staff.

“I like Tim Brown. Great guy, great teammate,” Romanowski told ESPN. “But he is delusional to think that Bill Callahan would give up the biggest opportunity of his life … to be a Super Bowl-winning coach. I cannot even comprehend why something like that would come out of his mouth.”

Kennedy tweeted that Callahan “got out-coached and a lot of us (including) myself were out played. It happens. I just wished it didn’t happen in the biggest game.”

Gannon, speaking on his Sirus XM radio show, said: “He was a good football coach, I think he’s a good man. We had too much invested in trying to become world champions. We all wanted to win. I’m sure Bill Callahan was one of those as well.”

The genesis of planning to turn a team that threw a club-record 619 times in 2002 into a running team for the Super Bowl was a 45-0 win over Tampa Bay in 1999. In that game, Napoleon Kaufman gained 122 yards and Tyrone Wheatley had 111 against a smaller Tampa Bay front.

Why would the Raiders revert to their passing personality so late in the week?

While Brown said Robbins “begged” Callahan not to change the game plan, Kennedy, also a starting member of the offensive line, told 95.7 The Game that he knew nothing about Robbins having any such issues.

Crockett told ESPN the game plan changed after Robbins went AWOL because backup center Adam Treu was not as formidable as a power blocker.

In a text to ESPN, former Raiders fullback Jon Ritchie said, “What we practiced during the week is not what we ran in that game. It could have been due to Barret’s absence.”

Gannon and Kennedy recalled having to abandon the running game partially because of game circumstance. The Raiders gained 18 yards on 10 first-half rushes and trailed 20-3 at halftime.

On their second possession, the Raiders ran Crockett twice into the line, were faced with third-and-long, and punted. Later, a first-down run by Charlie Garner resulted in a 1-yard loss, putting the Raiders in passing situation.

Gannon said there was talk of “being physical and running the football” going into the game but also said, “I don’t know that the game plan really changed … I think we came out, tried to run the football early and didn’t have a lot of success.”

Kennedy said he remembered Callahan saying as the Bucs took command, “We’re going to have to pass to get back into this.”

As for Brown’s version of things, Gannon said, “We often sit in rooms 53 of us, and the coach addresses the team, and not everybody gets the same message. Not everybody hears it the same way.”

Gannon, who threw five interceptions and had three returned for touchdowns, feels the blame falls on everyone who took part for the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

“If you got on that plane Monday in Oakland and flew to San Diego to participate in the Super Bowl, whether you’re the owner, the head coach, the quarterback or the guy that passed out the tickets, you’re responsible for what took place down there.”


Former Raiders WR Rice backs WR Brown’s Super Bowl ‘sabotage’ accusation


Former Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice just appeared on ESPN’s NFL Live show. During a phone interview, Rice backed fellow former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown’s accusation that coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” the Raiders’ chances of winning the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by changing the game plan the Friday before the game. Continue Reading


WR Brown accuses former coach Callahan of sabotaging Super Bowl


Former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said coach Bill Callahan may have sabotaged Oakland’s chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII against Tampa Bay 10 years ago by changing the game plan two days before the game.

Although stopping short of blaming Callahan, Brown suggested that the change in plans could have contributed to Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins’ going AWOL from the team and missing the Super Bowl due to substance abuse.

Tampa Bay and former Raiders coach Jon Gruden wound up beating the Raiders 48-21.

In an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Brown said the Raiders knew they didn’t have a chance to beat the Buccaneers when Callahan switched from a run-oriented plan to a pass-heavy attack on Friday.

“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” Brown said Saturday in a transcript provided by 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. ”

Then, Brown said, Callahan inexplicably switched plans on the Friday before the game and planned on “throwing the ball 60 times.”

“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.

“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 Robbins pleaded with Callahan to stick with the original game plan. As the center, Robbins was responsible for making line calls, which he had practiced all week anticipating a pass-happy attack, Brown said.

“Barret Robbins begged Coach Callahan, ‘Do not do this to me. I don’t have time to make my calls, to get my calls ready. You can’t do this to me on Friday. We haven’t practiced full speed, we can’t get this done,'”

“I’m not saying one had anything to do with the other,” Brown said. “All I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened Super Bowl week. So our ire wasn’t towards Barret Robbins, it was towards Bill Callahan. Because we feel as if he wouldn’t have did what he did, then Barret wouldn’t have done what he did.

“Now, should Barret have manned up and tried to do it? Absolutely. But everybody knew Barret was unstable anyway. So to put him in that situation — not that he was putting him in that situation — but for that decision to be made without consulting the players the Friday before the Super Bowl? I played 27 years of football. The coaches never changed the game plan the Friday before the game. I’m not trying to point fingers at anybody here, all I’m saying is those are the facts of what happened. So people look at Barret and they say all these things, but every player in that locker room will tell you, ‘You’d better talk to Bill Callahan.’ Because if not for Coach Callahan, I don’t think we’re in that situation.”


Report: Raiders expand talks with candidates about upper management role


This was filed by beat writer Jerry McDonald a few minutes ago:

The Raiders are talking with Scott O’Neil, the former president of Madison Square Garden , about a position as team president, according to a tweet Sunday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It is the second person reportedly involved in discussions with owner Mark Davis about an upper management position, joining NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson.

It is unclear what that position would mean to Raiders CEO Amy Trask and general manager Reggie McKenzie. Trask has been involved strictly on the business side since McKenzie arrived, including leading an effort for a new stadium.

McKenzie was asked about the reports of a team president while talking with local writers Thursday and said, “That’s a Mark Davis deal. I don’t want to give any leeway of his line of thinking on that. . . . I don’t want to divulge any information in that regard. I’ll let Mark answer those questions.

Davis was not available for comment.

O’Neil, 42, resigned his post as Madison Square Garden president in September after four years on the job. His responsibilities included overseeing the season-ticket and marketing operations of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

According to the New York Times, O’Neil “gradually increased his involvement in Knicks’ personnel decisions, often to the annoyance of the basketball operations staff.’’