A curious story has surfaced on the 10th anniversary of Super Bowl XXXVII, a game that featured the Oakland Raiders taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers completed dismantled the Raiders 48-21 on their way to the franchise’s first World Championship. Did the Oakland Raiders coaching staff sabotage their game plan in order to hand the Super Bowl to the Buccaneers?
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown recently suggested as much in a recent radio interview. Brown suggests that at the last minute, the Raiders changed up their offensive game plan, from a run heavy plan to a pass oriented scheme, throwing the ball 60 times. The former Heisman Trophy winner suggested that head coach Bill Callahan might have made the change to guarantee a victory for his friend, Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden.
Brown points out that the Raiders were going to go with a run heavy package because their offensive line averaged 340 pounds while the Buccaneers defensive front averaged 280. He claims that Charlie Garner was told that he wasn’t going to get the ball much with the Raiders planning to feature Zack Crockett and Tyrone Wheatley. At the last minute on Friday before the game, the game plan was switched.
Brown said during the interview, “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 (prior to becoming head coach). 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.
Anyone who watched this Super Bowl will remember that it appeared that the Buccaneers seemed to be inside the Raiders playbook. The 2002 Buccaneers defense was a ferocious bunch, one of the all-time greatest group of defenders. Obviously, Gruden had been the Raiders head coach the previous year, so he had intimate knowledge of the Raiders players. Gruden held a practice in the hotel meeting room, while playing the role of Raiders QB Rich Gannon.
It does appear a bit strange for a team to completely switch up a game plan so radically just hours before kickoff. But what is really strange about the comments is the timing and the fact that no other former player has made similar comments for something that happened a decade ago.
For those that remember that game, Raiders OC Barret Robbins disappeared the day before the game. Brown doesn’t suggest his disappearance had anything to do with the sudden game plan change, but does remember Robbins being upset with Callahan making the sudden changes.
“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,” said Brown.
Several of the Buccaneers defenders said after the game that they knew the Raiders line calls. That could be understandable since Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders the year before.
But why does Brown feel the need after 10 years to voice his position about this game? Why now? Why now when he is one of the 15 modern era finalists for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Why has this story not been confirmed by any others on that Raiders team? Brown states, “We all called it sabotage”. If “we” all called it sabotage, were are the comments from the “we” of the Raiders team?
Ironically, Brown finished his lengthy career with Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004.
UPDATE: RB Zach Crockett was a guest on Mike and Mike this morning and confirmed that the game plan was changed on Friday before the Super Bowl. Crockett claims that the game plan was changed becuase of Barret Robbins and did not suggest any sabotage by Callahan.