New Bears head coach refuses to comment on allegations that former Raiders head coach sabotaged Super Bowl chances
By Brandon Reid
New Chicago Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman has refused to address allegations made Jan. 22 by retired Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown that former Raiders Head Coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” his team’s chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII because of his close relationship with former Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden and his dislike of the Raiders organization.
Trestman cited the Bears’ media blackout policy as his reason for declining to comment after being approached by a reporter at the 2013 Senior Bowl, CSN Bay Area reported.
Trestman was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Raiders team that lost Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2002 season. The Bears hired Trestman as the 17th head coach in team history Jan. 16, following the Dec. 31 firing of Lovie Smith.
On Sirius XM’s NFL Radio and NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk, Brown alleged Jan. 22 that Callahan knowingly hurt the Raiders’ chances at winning the Super Bowl by changing the Raiders’ game plan two days before the game.
“We all called it sabotage … because Callahan and Gruden were good friends,” Brown alleged. “And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders. You know, only came because Gruden made him come.”
Gruden had served as Raiders head coach from 1998 until 2001, the season prior to the Super Bowl, and coached the Bucs on the opposing sideline in Super Bowl XXXVII. He is now an NFL analyst for ESPN.
In an interview on The Dan Patrick Show Jan. 23, Brown backtracked slightly from his Jan. 22 statement.
“I have never said that he sabotaged the game,” Brown said Jan. 23. “All I was saying after the game was, you know, the question was asked about this situation, but no one ever said — and I said on the radio show last Saturday night — that’s something that could never be proven. We can’t go inside the mind of Bill Callahan and say, ‘Oh, yeah, we knew exactly what he was thinking, what he was trying to do.’ All I’m saying is, the question was asked. But of course the media hears ‘sabotage’ and ‘Bill Callahan’ and ‘throwing the football game,’ now they’re saying ‘throwing the football game’ and that terminology was never used. But that wasn’t the intent.”
Brown’s teammates on the 2002 Raiders, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice and fullback Jon Ritchie, defended Brown’s original assertions Jan. 22.
Rice said on ESPN’s NFL Live Jan. 22: “I was very surprised that he waited ’til the last second, and I think a lot of the players they were surprised also. So, in a way, maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders he decided, ‘Hey look, maybe we should sabotage just a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.’”
In a Jan. 22 statement, Callahan said: “While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours. To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations.
“Any 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 added in his statement. “I think it would be in the best interests of all, including the game America loves, that these allegations be retracted immediately.”
Callahan called for the allegations made against him by the former players to be taken back.
Callahan lasted two seasons in Oakland, going 11-5 in 2002 and 4-12 the following season. He was head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 2004 to 2007, assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the New York Jets from 2008 to 2011, and offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2012 to present.
Many of Brown’s teammates, including quarterback Rich Gannon, came to Callahan’s defense on radio and Twitter Jan. 22.
Although the Raiders had thrown for a then club-record 619 passes in the 2002 regular season, the team’s game plan in Super Bowl XXXVII was to take advantage of the undersized Tampa Bay defensive front by running the ball early. However, the Raiders fell behind early, and had 49 pass plays and a season-low 11 runs in the game. Gannon threw five interceptions in the game, including three returned for touchdowns.
Rice and Brown also said the decision to change the game plan two days prior to the Super Bowl may have been because of starting center Barret Robbins leaving the team to party in Tijuana the Friday before the game and being suspended for the Super Bowl. Robbins was later diagnosed as bipolar.
Posted Jan. 23, 2013
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