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Rich Gannon: Bill Callahan was a good coach who wanted to win

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Former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon does not agree with his old teammate Tim Brown about coach Bill Callahan sabotaging the team in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers.

Gannon said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that he believes Callahan coached to win in Super Bowl XXXVII, when the Bucs beat the Raiders 48-21.

“In terms of Bill Callahan, let me just say this: He was a good football coach, he was a good man,” Gannon said. “We all wanted to win.”

Gannon made clear that he likes and respects Brown, but he doesn’t accept Brown’s version of events, which is that Callahan “hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl.”

So why did the Raiders only run the ball 11 times while throwing 44 passes in that game? Brown says Callahan changed the game plan at the last minute, leaving the Raiders ill-prepared. But Gannon says the pass-heavy play calling happened mostly because the Raiders fell behind early and trailed 20-3 by halftime.

“I think what happened was that we came out and tried to run the football early in that game, we didn’t have a lot of success,” Gannon said. “We fell behind in the game and at that point we started throwing the ball too much.”

Considering that the Raiders gained only 19 yards on their 11 runs, that theory seems more plausible than Brown’s bizarre belief that Callahan would put in all the work necessary to lead his team to the Super Bowl and then purposely sabotage his team by changing the game plan at the last minute.

“I don’t know that the game plan really changed,” Gannon said.

Where Gannon did acknowledge the Raiders’ coaches screwed up was in not changing up the terminology they used for calls at the line of scrimmage. Jon Gruden had coached the Raiders for the four previous seasons before coaching against them in the Super Bowl, and Gannon says Callahan hadn’t changed any of the terminology the Raiders used on offense. As a result, Gruden had taught the Bucs the Raiders’ calls, and the Bucs knew what was coming when Gannon barked out his signals at the line of scrimmage.

“So much of our verbiage and terminology was a carryover from what Jon Gruden had installed in terms of our run checks, and so we were calling certain plays and guys like Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were calling out the runs,” Gannon said. “So it kind of took us out of our no-huddle plan at the line of scrimmage.”

Failing to change the terminology so that the opposing coach wouldn’t know it was a huge gaffe by Callahan, and it’s completely reasonable to criticize him for that. But saying he made a stupid mistake in his preparation for the Super Bowl is a long way from saying he actually wanted to lose the Super Bowl.

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43 Responses to “Rich Gannon: Bill Callahan was a good coach who wanted to win”
  1. rayguyreturns says: Jan 22, 2013 12:35 PM

    Callahan was a complete IDIOT for not changing the terminology. Did he think Gruden would not tell his team???

    Idiot.

  2. RoofDude says: Jan 22, 2013 12:35 PM

    MVP Gannon….. set a record for INT’s in the Superbowl. I lol’d for years at Raider fans after that one…..

    Have to admit though, I like Gannon on SiriusXM. Listen to him quite a bit

  3. robotrav says: Jan 22, 2013 12:36 PM

    Isn’t this the same Tim Brown who recently griped about how Jerry Rice stole his thunder?

  4. citynative says: Jan 22, 2013 12:36 PM

    The Raiders players, fans, and front office have never lost a game in their own minds. Does it not seem like every loss they have is blamed on the refs, rules, the NFL League office, and now sabotage?

  5. lightcleric says: Jan 22, 2013 12:39 PM

    Still can’t believe they were too dumb to change the play calling language

    Unless Al Davis meddled in THAT too.

  6. blacktoothgrinn says: Jan 22, 2013 12:40 PM

    It was a great/intriguing story that Tim told, but a little far fetched. On the other hand, Gannon’s story has been the one told for years. Callahan was too stupid/stubborn to change the terminology.

  7. raiderlyfe510 says: Jan 22, 2013 12:41 PM

    Yep. That’s how I remember it. We came out trying to run with Ty Wheat, then Zack Crockett. None of those runs were effective so they went to the pass.

    Callahan was so paranoid after that Superbowl he scrapped Gruden’s system and started adding a lot of new wrinkles and started drafting faster players to counter defensive speed. Big Al should have been more patient with him, and Callahan should have made an effort to win over players like Garner and Woodson. Callahan was a great Raider coach.

  8. randygnyc says: Jan 22, 2013 12:41 PM

    Except they were still in the game during the first quarter and they hardly ran. And when they did, they ran the little back, not the 2 guys that they had game planned for. I believe Tim Brown. I expect the NFL to engage in extortion and intimidation to keep the lid on this, starting…… NOW!!!

  9. norcal031 says: Jan 22, 2013 12:43 PM

    What a awful week for northern California sports fans…..While central California is celebrating the niners us here are loosing the kings and the raiders are fighting about a superbowl they got blown out in. Good thing we have the best tree in America to ease our pain…..

  10. marvsleezy says: Jan 22, 2013 12:43 PM

    If Warren Sapp can figure out your calls you have really done something wrong

  11. chalkruz1989 says: Jan 22, 2013 12:44 PM

    I like to hear from the retired players and their thoughts on certain topics. However, this is clearly an example of a player (Tim Brown) who is still reeling from the Super Bowl loss.

    Why would the head coach want to purposely lose the biggest game of the season? It’s a business and for Bill Callahan, it’s a simple objective, win this game and watch your star-power go through the roof and cash in.

    This comment is just outlandish and a poor attempt to try and validate that spanking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put on them.

  12. scrp2 says: Jan 22, 2013 12:47 PM

    I don’t care if they ran it, changed the terminology, had their MIA o-line guy – There was no way they would have won that game.

  13. raiderapologist says: Jan 22, 2013 12:50 PM

    citynative says: Jan 22, 2013 12:36 PM

    The Raiders players, fans, and front office have never lost a game in their own minds. Does it not seem like every loss they have is blamed on the refs, rules, the NFL League office, and now sabotage?
    ———
    Is that what Gannon was saying? Sounds like he owned it to me. As for Brown, who knows what he’s talking about. If he’s trying to get enshrined, he seems to be going about it the wrong way.

  14. doe22us says: Jan 22, 2013 12:51 PM

    Game flow and of course the fact that they fell behind forced their hand, so of course it is a valid and logical reason. Now, this happened over a decade ago why bring it up, its done move on.

  15. raiderlyfe510 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:00 PM

    One thing about Tim Brown. He keeps it 100 like other NFL player. Even in his playing days he would speak his min with no filter. I always thought Big Al would give Tim Brown the Marcus Allen treatment.

    I don’t buy sabatoge though. I really don’t think Callahan and Gruden’s relationship have been the same after that Superbowl.

    All I remember about that Superbowl is…Greg Papa mentioning our mauler B Robb was not going to play. C Wood’s INT, our early ineffective runs, Bresnahan not having our DBs press their WRs giving them a clean release in that rhythm based offense, not being able to stop that scrub Pittman….and those police helicopters circling around Oakland with Riot flames and smoke going up in the air.

    Helluva year.

  16. tryandthink says: Jan 22, 2013 1:01 PM

    A voice of reason. Raiders fans will reject this and listen to Brown

  17. 1bigtex says: Jan 22, 2013 1:04 PM

    The Raiders had the #1 pass offense in the league that year. They had almost a 10% lead on the team in second place. Additionally, the Raiders were in the bottom half of the league in rushing offense that year. Why should it come as a surprise that a team that made it’s bones throwing the ball, would continue to throw the ball when everything was on the line? Especially after falling behind by 2 plus scores?

    First, Tim Brown gives us the “we threw the ball to Jerry Rice too much” whine. Now, he gives us the “we threw the ball during the Super Bowl too much” whine.

    Come on Tim. Just shut up!

  18. granadafan says: Jan 22, 2013 1:05 PM

    What is it with Notre Dame players and weird conspiracies?

  19. luissoto43 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:06 PM

    I feel that rich Gannon’s comments further support tims theory. There is no way you can go into a game playing against your ex coach and not change the wordage on the play calling. The raiders never stood a chance

  20. vicnocal says: Jan 22, 2013 1:13 PM

    It’s a lot easier to beat the opponent when you know before the snap what play they’re going to run. Just ask Bill Belichick.

  21. chipwade says: Jan 22, 2013 1:17 PM

    If Jon Gruden never wins the Super Bowl would he still be considered a great head coach and a hot commodity?

    “In the two years following Gruden’s Super Bowl win, the Bucs went 7–9 and 5–11.” (Wikipedia)

    Kind of like Barry Switzer taking over a very good Cowboys team.

  22. stew48 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:19 PM

    Is Brown whining again? Enough is enough, just get to the Hall so you stop whining.

  23. raiderufan says: Jan 22, 2013 1:23 PM

    I’m a huge Tim Brown fan….he was THE GUY on the Raiders thru all the years I became a fan but I believe Rich. The stories the offseason Callahan was hired were centered around Al hiring him because of the support from the players. It just doesn’t work. Not sure where Tim was going here?

  24. parkerfly says: Jan 22, 2013 1:34 PM

    “Callahan was so paranoid after that Superbowl he scrapped Gruden’s system and started adding a lot of new wrinkles and started drafting faster players to counter defensive speed. Big Al should have been more patient with him, and Callahan should have made an effort to win over players like Garner and Woodson. Callahan was a great Raider coach.”
    —————————————————

    First off Callahan didn’t start drafting anybody. Al Davis handled all the personnel decisions and drafted/signed whoever he wanted.
    Secondly Callahan should have known better than to completely change the system to one that didn’t fit his personnel at all unless he wanted to get fired. They went from #1 overall offense in 2002 to #25 in 2003, and were horrible even before Gannon went down with an injury.

  25. surfinbird1 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:34 PM

    Oh boy! here we go . Sabotagegate.

  26. bigredgoog says: Jan 22, 2013 1:34 PM

    Changing the game plan is not sabotage. Isn’t a game plan a choice of plays and formations to use to exploit perceived weaknesses or create openings? It isn’t like he made new plays the players had never heard of. Essentially it is alleged the coach on the Friday before the Super Bowl decided to call more pass plays than runs. Big Whoop. Can’t a pro player handle that? What am I missing.

  27. footballfan292 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:38 PM

    A WR crying because their team didnt run the ball?

    Now I’ve heard everything.

  28. greg2geez says: Jan 22, 2013 1:40 PM

    Callahan is so so incompetent that if he had tried to sabotage the Super Bowl the Raiders would have won. Good luck Dallas.

  29. oakraid says: Jan 22, 2013 2:00 PM

    luissoto43 says:
    Jan 22, 2013 1:06 PM
    I feel that rich Gannon’s comments further support tims theory. There is no way you can go into a game playing against your ex coach and not change the wordage on the play calling. The raiders never stood a chance

    ————————————————

    First off, Tim’s comments are lame. The guy has always been kinda weird, but this theory is stupid. Saying Callahan lost on purpose to help his buddy Gruden is taking conspiracy theory to an all time level of tardation.

    Second, the reason the terminology was not changed is because there was no time to change it. There was no typical “Superbowl Week” that year. The Superbowl was played just 1 week after the league Championship games. How can you change what you have done with great success for 2 season in just 6 days? Had there been the typical two weeks, I guarantee there would have been some terminology changes.

    Would it have mattered? Who knows, but I bet it would have been alot better game.

  30. radrntn says: Jan 22, 2013 2:00 PM

    dumbest coach in America

  31. raider8er says: Jan 22, 2013 2:03 PM

    MVP Gannon should have demanded a change in terminology. Failing to do that was like giving a student the answers to the SAT a week before the test.

  32. crappygovernment says: Jan 22, 2013 2:10 PM

    Rich Gannon was just intercepted by the Bucs defense again!

  33. milkmandanimal says: Jan 22, 2013 2:10 PM

    Callahan did the worst possible job as a head coach I can even conceive of for a Super Bowl. He didn’t change his calls, and the Bucs knew every play. Add to that the fact that the 2002 Bucs defense was an absolute freaking TERROR against the pass; Football Outsiders ranks that as the singly best pass defense in the last 25 years or so.

    Yeah, you could run against that team, but the Raiders got behind early. The three picks returned for TD came after the Raiders were already down 27-3, and, at that point, it was too late. The Raiders threw for almost 4500 yards that year; they were a pass-heavy team. They were an absolutely terrible matchup against a Bucs team that was pretty much perfect to destroy them.

    Fun trivia–in three playoff games that year, opponents scored three offensive TDs against the Bucs. The Bucs defense scored FOUR TDs. That defense was hellaciously good that year.

  34. dadawg77 says: Jan 22, 2013 2:14 PM

    Look at the game book for the game and at the bottom is the play by play of the game.

    First Quarter which was tied at 3-3, Raiders ran 4 times and passed 11 times. Passed on one of the four first down plays. Second Quarter and score was 13-3 on the Raiders last possession, 3 runs and 11 passes with 1/4 1st downs as runs. Bucs scored on the last drive of the half so halftime score was 20-3

    Thus while the game was within 10 points, the Raiders ran 7 and passed 22 times with 2 runs on 8 first downs. I think this eliminates Gannon’s position that they passed because they were being blown out.

  35. JSpicoli says: Jan 22, 2013 2:24 PM

    RoofDude says:Jan 22, 2013 12:35 PM

    MVP Gannon….. set a record for INT’s in the Superbowl. I lol’d for years at Raider fans after that one…..

    Have to admit though, I like Gannon on SiriusXM. Listen to him quite a bit
    __________________________________

    Self-admitted putz.

  36. mn2long says: Jan 22, 2013 2:28 PM

    So he didn’t change the game plan and “sabotage the team”, but he also used terminology that the Bucs defense would definitely be familiar with. Hmmmmm….Sounds reasonable.

    And now Jerry Jones is giving him the reigns to run the offense. Sounds about right.

  37. realdealsteel says: Jan 22, 2013 2:58 PM

    In that Super Bowl, there was an opportunity for the Raiders to get in the game but Tim Brown refused to lay out for a pass and after the game, he told reporters that he wouldn’t do it. So…after 14 years in the league, you wouldn’t go all out to win a Super Bowl Tim????? Really???????

    Go back, pull up the interviews after that Super Bowl and you’ll see how much of a loser Tim Brown really was. Just because you stay in the league a long time, doesn’t really make you a great player.

  38. phreakin says: Jan 22, 2013 3:30 PM

    Hate Callahan because of what he did to Nebraska when he was there. The guy should NEVER be allowed to coach in college again

  39. mazblast says: Jan 22, 2013 4:32 PM

    Little Timmy was Notre Dame’s designated Heisman winner when he was the BMOC there. Since then he’s been typical of the breed, saying any old stuff and holding himself blameless for any problems.

    That’s a Notre Dame “star” for you–golden helmets and solid metal from ear to ear.

  40. mtntrouter says: Jan 22, 2013 4:41 PM

    I respect Gannon quite a bit, but I disagree with his assessment of Callahan. The truth is, the Raiders were 4-4 at the midpoint of the season, and in danger of not straightening things out in time to make the playoffs. The Raiders had a players-only meeting before facing the Broncos. Rod Woodson had a pick-six in the game to bring the Raiders to 5-4 and jumpstart their hotstreak. I listened to Gannon back then, and he said it was the leaders of the team (Gannon, Kennedy, Brown, Rice, Romanowski, Rod Woodson) who got the players to sh!t on the pot or get off. It is well-documented that Callahan did not have a good relationship with his players, and disliked Al Davis. Remember, it was Davis who traded Gruden, whereby Callahan became HC by default. I disagree with anyone who says Callahan sabotaged the SB. You win that game, and other doors will open for you. Callahan did what Callahan was asked to do and that was to run Gruden’s system with Trestman and get to the SB. If Callahan changed the system during the season, the team doesn’t make the playoffs. Period. Davis gambled that the Raiders wouldn’t face Tampa Bay/Gruden in the SB and it backfired. The rest is history. Take away Gannon’s interceptions, and the Raiders still lose 27-21.

    Signed,

    Rational Raider Fan

  41. onebucplace says: Jan 23, 2013 1:23 AM

    Rational Raider Fan

    If you’re going to take away Tampa’s three defensive TDs, then I want Tom Tupa’s blocked punt and the completely not a catch TD by Porter taken back as well.

    So that makes it 27-6 (you guys don’t get 7 since you went for 2 on all your TDs and got none of them, 0-3 on 2pt conversions).

    A Better Bucs Fan

  42. edavidberg says: Jan 23, 2013 9:51 AM

    Did the Raiders scrap the game plan they practiced all week on Friday night or not? Brown said they changed it, and Robbins begged them not to because he was concerned about learning his calls. Did that happen or not?

    Gannon says no.

  43. vipod4ever says: Jan 23, 2013 8:25 PM

    Really Rich? Callahan a good coach? Please, look back at your words & actions during the 2003 Season. You walked into Al’s office and demanded Callahan be fired. You publically said he destroyed everything Gruden created. You said Callahan never liked Oakland or it”s players. Those words & events all available in newspaper transcipts online.

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