Super Bowl XXXVII was one of the strangest football games in NFL history. On one side, you had the Oakland Raiders, led by former Jon Gruden assistant coach Bill Callahan. On the other side you had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by former Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden. The year before, Gruden was traded by the Raiders to Tampa Bay for draft picks, and Gruden then proceeded to lead Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay crushed Oakland 48-21 during that 2002 championship game, with the game being so lopsided some participants are certain the fix is in. Retired Oakland wide receiver Tim Brown believes that then-coach Bill Callahan deliberately threw Super Bowl XXXVII so his friend Jon Gruden would win.
“We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we’re gonna run the ball,” said Brown during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. Brown added that, on the Friday before the game, Callahan wanted to “throw the ball 60 times.” Said Brown, “We all called it sabotage … because Callahan and Gruden were good friends. 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.”
Of course, there’s a more likely suspect to this weird last-second change in offense, and that’s Oakland’s legendary owner Al Davis. Davis was a notorious meddler, and when you consider he had two of the best wide-receivers of all time in Tim Brown and former record-holder Jerry Rice and Davis LOVED throwing the ball deep, well… then again, Jerry Rice backs up Tim Brown’s claims, and has even said that Callahan kept the entire offense the same, including terminology, so Tampa Bay’s defense knew what plays were being called and how they were going to run. Sounds like either a horribly incompetent coach (as Callahan’s head coaching record would suggest) or deliberate failure.
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