Tim Brown and Jerry Rice should put their heads together and form a rock pile.
First Brown alleged that Raiders head coach Bill Callahan purposely lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers and their coach Jon Gruden, his old friend, by sabotaging the play-calling with too many passes. Rice “corroborated,” Browns’ claims in even stronger language in an ESPN interview.
Their allegations bring up a lot of questions:
Did Callahan also sabotage the defensive game plan?
Because the Raiders lost that game 48-21. No team has allowed that many points in the last 17 Super Bowls.
Did Callahan hypnotize quarterback Rich Gannon, the league MVP, into throwing 5 interceptions?
A better reason for the loss may have been that Brown, while targeted five times, caught 1 pass for 9 yards. Funny he didn’t mention that at all while essentially accusing Callahan of throwing the Super Bowl.
As we joke in the journalism business, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” And this appears to be a story only in the fictional sense.
Oh by the way, three assistants on that Raiders staff have recently been hired by the Bears, including head coach Marc Trestman, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. New Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer was an assistant offensive line coach in Oakland, and new Bears running backs coach Skip Peete held the same position with the Raiders.
None of them have responded to questions about Rice’s and Brown’s allegations and neither has Callahan.
But it’s interesting to note, As Pro Football Talk has already pointed out, Rice’s recollections of that game are far from accurate.
On ESPN, Rice recalled the Raiders being forced "to throw the ball over 60 times." Actually the Raiders threw 44 times. That was three times than they had thrown the ball the week before in the AFC Championship Game, when they scored 41 points against the Titans.
Both players are correct that the Raiders hardly ran the ball at all. You wonder why the Raiders ran the ball only 11 times? Well, maybe because those 11 runs totaled just 19 yards. Maybe it was because the Raiders trailed 20-3 at halftime and 34-3 in the third quarter.
That pass-run ratio was lopsided, but it was a yearlong trend, also pointed out by Pro Football Talk. The Raiders had been a passing team all season. They led the NFL in passing yards in 2002 but ranked 18th in the league in rushing yards and 23rd in rushing attempts.
Jerry Rice is already a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, and Tim Brown is up for induction this season, although the blowback from this foot-in-mouth episode could, and should, hurt his chances. They also both belong in the Horse’s Ass Hall of Fame.