LOS ANGELES, January 22, 2013—Has Tim Brown lost his mind?
With all of the tragedies involving football players, concussions, and CTE, perhaps such a question should not be asked in such a cavalier manner. Perhaps some rephrasing is in order.
Has Tim Brown gone loco in the Cabeza?
Ten years after the Oakland Raiders were beaten badly by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, Raiders wide receiver Tim brown is claiming that coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the team before the big game.
Let’s dispense with any pretense of neutrality on my part. My blood coagulates silver and black, with the Raiders pirate flag adorning my living room wall. Tim Brown is “Mr. Raider,” one of the greatest receivers of all time. He will get in the Hall of Fame at some point. Over 17 seasons, 16 of them in Oakland, he was justifiably a fan favorite. He straddled the line of being loyal to his fellow players as well as being a “company man” who was respectful of management. He is the last guy anyone would ever to expect to “lash out.”
Brown’s version of events is that after Jon “Chucky” Gruden left the Raiders to coach the Buccaneers, Bill Callahan was promoted to Oakland head coach by the late owner Al Davis despite Callahan’s secretly hating the team. Two days before the Super Bowl, Callahan allegedly changed the game plan from a heavy emphasis on running the football to a pass-happy attack. This change contributed to the already unstable center Barrett Robbins having a meltdown, doming the entire team to defeat.
Despite being an intelligent, thoughtful, classy guy, Tim Brown’s theory has one tragic flaw. It is completely ludicrous.
In 2000, the Raiders were a running team with Tyrone Wheatley. By 2001, Jon Gruden had brought in Charlie Garner and shifted more to the passing game. When Callahan took over in 2002, he had the team passing almost all of the time, similar to the 1999-2001 “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams that had lit up the league. Quarterback Rich Gannon until the end of the season had a chance to reach 5,000 yards passing. In the last game of the regular season, the Raiders went to a power running game only because the game was played in a monsoon. Yet with receivers Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Jerry Porter, the 2002 Raiders were absolutely the passing attack that Al Davis learned from Sid Gilman. The passing attack defeated the Jets in the Divisional round and the Titans in the AFC Title Game. The idea that a team that had gone “bombs away” all year would resort to a running game in the Super Bowl defies logic.
So is the notion that Callahan would want to lose a Super Bowl and destroy his own career the following year. Some people want to blame Al Davis for “meddling,” but even Davis-haters have to concede that it would make no sense for a passing team to alter what got them to the Super Bowl. The issue is not that Davis loved the passing game. The issue is that for the 2002 season, it worked beautifully until the last game.
The Raiders did not lose the Super Bowl, and the coaching staff certainly did not throw the game deliberately or through sabotage. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers simply did what they had done one week earlier to the Eagles. The Bucs took the Raiders and hit them in the mouth.
That Tampa Bay defense will send Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp to the Hall of Fame. The advantage of having Gruden as coach was vital. He knew the Raiders inside and out. He even played the role of Gannon in practice. Lynch had a microphone on during the game, and you could hear him boasting “We saw these plays in practice.” The Tampa Bay defense run by Monte Kiffin was one of the all time great defenses, and it won the battles just as the legendary 2000 Ravens defense had beaten the Raiders two years earlier in that AFC Title Game.
Sorry Mr. Brown, but there is no there there. That Super Bowl loss still stings to this day, but there was no Immaculate Reception or Tuck Rule. There was no conspiracy, either by the referees or from within. The Buccaneers won the game fair and square. Even the most loyal members of the Raider Nation like me from the Black Hole to the owner accepts this.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian who is obsessed with the National Football League. There is no offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.
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