As everyone knows (because every sports and news network has already begun hammering this into our skulls at every chance they get), this year’s Super Bowl will feature, for the first time ever, a brother vs. brother coaching matchup. It’s the one story that might be interesting enough to beat out Ray Lewis‘ chase for one more title for the most overplayed story of this Super Bowl. As much as John and Jim Harbaugh probably love each other, you know they’ll be doing their damnedest to beat each other’s brains in on the field come Sunday, February 3. This is why former Raiders receiver Tim Brown’s ridiculous story about then Raiders head coach Bill Callahan possibly sabotaging Super Bowl XXXVII on purpose is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.
Brown’s story is that, because of his hatred for the Raiders organization and his love of friend John Gruden (who left Oakland to coach in Tampa Bay and faced the Raiders in that Super Bowl), Callahan sabotaged the team so that they would lose the game. How did he do this? Apparently, by changing from a ground and pound running attack game plan to an all throwing, all the time plan just three days before the big game. According to Brown, this not only set the Raiders up for a guaranteed loss, it may have caused Raiders Center Barrett Robbins to go AWOL on a drug binge and miss the game.
For those of you know don’t know how NFL prep goes, you spend the entire time between games preparing for your next opponent. Naturally, the level of practice and prep grow expoentially for championship games. Teams probably plan for every scenario, and develop the strategy they think will put them in the best position to win. Guys have to spend their prep week (or weeks) learning everything about the other team and their own game plan. So, when you change the game plan just three days before the game (which is the only part of Brown’s story that has actually been confirmed), it throws a wrench into everything, and really puts the team in a bad position.
There is no doubt in my mind that Callahan blew any real chance the Raiders had to win this game when he made that last minute change. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the biggest blunders in Super Bowl history. Forget Scott Norwood, forget Leon Lett and even Jackie Smith. This is the dumbest of the dumb. However, that’s all it is. It’s just a case of a coach completely over thinking things and ruining everything for his team. I do not, for a second, believe that his hatred of the Raiders and his friendship with John Gruden influenced him to throw this game on purpose.
Let’s get back tot he Harbaughs for a second. I read this week that the two will not be speaking to each other on the phone for the next two weeks. Outside of a few text messages here and there, they will not be communicating much at all. That’s because they both want to do everything they can to win the game. That’s what the Super Bowl means to these two men. After all is said and done, they’ll probably get together with their dad, former college coach Jack Harbaugh, for dinner and a sharing of the amazing seasons they both had. Until the final whistle though, they’re treating each other like the last roadblock before a Super Bowl Championship.
I liken this to when I play my buddy, Dr. Draft, in MLB the Show on PS3. This man has been one of my best friends since high school. We’ve been there for each other in good times and bad and shared many years of great fun and friendship. However, for those fake nine video game innings, we want nothing more than to beat each other’s brains in. Seriously. The joy of winning and the agony of defeat have never been felt more by anyone over anything ever. I’m pretty sure the Allied forces weren’t as happy when the Nazis surrendered as I was breaking up Dr. Draft’s perfect game with one out in the ninth on an up-the-middle single by Hanley Ramirez a few years ago. It’s not possible.
Where am I going with all of this nonsense? Like Dr. Draft and I, Bill Callahan and John Gruden were the best of friends. Callahan was on Gruden’s staff before he left for Tampa. Some could say Gruden was Callahan’s mentor. All that crap goes out the window when the game starts, especially in a championship game situation. There’s no way Tim Brown’s story holds any water, because it goes against everything that sports and friendship means. Jerry Rice might be a bigger idiot for backing Brown up on his allegations. No one else has come forward supporting the claim, and many other former Raiders have called the allegations ridiculous. It just didn’t happen. I actually feel bad for Callahan, who has had to relive one of the worst coaching decisions ever, and defend his integrity by basically admitting that he’s a moron. Imagine having to admit to the world that you blew the biggest game of your life, not on purpose, but because you’re a fool?
Anyway, I know there are some of you conspiracy theory nuts out there that will believe what Brown said this week. If you think Callahan threw the game on purpose because he wanted Gruden to win, I know a “A League of their Own” argument we can have right after this post.
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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