Former Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan said it was "defamatory" for any former player to allege he intentionally sabotaged their Super Bowl game plan against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 years ago.
Callahan issued a statement of denial and disappointment Tuesday after at least three former players, including receiver Tim Brown, hinted that the Bucs' 48-21 win was a product of Callahan's hatred of the Raiders and friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
Callahan called for an immediate retraction, adding it was "ludicrous" to consider he would throw any game, much less a Super Bowl.
"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," said Callahan, who was hired last week as Dallas' offensive coordinator.
The title game, played Jan. 23, 2003 in San Diego, pitted the league's top-ranked offense (Raiders) and defense (Bucs). Tampa Bay dominated, limiting Oakland to 269 total yards and intercepting three Rich Gannon passes for touchdowns.
Brown told Sirius XM NFL Radio on Saturday that Callahan changed the Raiders' game plan just hours before the game.
"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, (he) only came (to Oakland) because Gruden made him come. Literally (he) walked off the field on us a couple of times during the season when he first got there, the first couple years."
Gruden was the Raiders' head coach from 1998 to 2001. Callahan, his offensive coordinator, took over when the Bucs acquired Gruden in a trade before the 2002 season.
Brown was not alone in his criticism of Callahan. Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown in the game, concurred Tuesday that Callahan suddenly switched the offensive plan from running the ball to primarily passing.
Callahan denies ex-Raiders' sabotage claim in Bucs' title win
Tampa Tribune | Jan 23