NFL legend Jerry Rice is getting involved in a strange conspiracy theory.The theory: Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan sabotaged his own team in the 2003 Super Bowl because he “hated” the Raiders franchise and wanted his friend Tampa Bay Bucs coach Jon Gruden to win.
Here’s what he told ESPN’s Trey Wingo on NFL Live this afternoon (via PFT):
“For some reason — and I don’t know why — Bill Callahan did not like me. In a way, maybe because he didn’t like the Raiders, he decided, ‘Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.'”
This echos what fellow Raiders receiver Tim Brown said on Sirius radio over the weekend (also via PFT):
“That can be my opinion, but I can’t say for a fact that that’s what his plan was, to sabotage the Super Bowl. He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win the Super Bowl. That’s hard to say, because you can’t prove it.”
“But the facts are what they are, that less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan. And we go into that game absolutely knowing that we have no shot.”
Rice and Brown say that Callahan gave the team a game plan on Monday that said they were going to run the ball a lot. Then on Friday, Callahan changed everything and told the team they were going to throw as much as possible.
Brown said it was all because Callahan hated Oakland, and didn’t want to be there:
“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.”
That’s the basis for the theory — general dislike.
Rice is well respected in the league, but let’s face it, THIS IS CRAZY. An NFL head coach would never sabotage his own team in the Super Bowl. And even if one did sabotage his own team, it would be for a better reason than “he didn’t like people.”
Bill Callahan throwing the Super Bowl would be one of the biggest sports scandals ever. So Rice and Brown floating this theory is pretty reckless considering the only evidence is, “He changed the game plan.”
In addition, as Mike Florio points out, the Raiders were a passing team all year, so the sudden game plan change should hardly be viewed as “sabotage.”
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