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.”