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NFL

Ex-Raiders coach denies former players' allegations

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 7:20 p.m.

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan denied allegations made by two of his former players that he “sabotaged” the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago.

Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before Oakland's 48-21 loss.

“While I fully understand a competitive professional football player's disappointment when a game's outcome doesn't go his team's way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown's allegations and Jerry Rice's support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours,” Callahan said Tuesday in a statement. “To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations.”

The hubbub over a game played a decade ago began Monday when Brown said on Sirius XM Radio that he believed Callahan altered the game plan because of his close ties to Gruden, the former Raiders coach who hired Callahan, and because Callahan hated the Raiders.

“We all called it sabotage because Callahan and Gruden was good friends, and Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, hated the Raiders and only came because Gruden made him come,” Brown said.

While many of Brown's teammates, including quarterback Rich Gannon, came to Callahan's defense on radio and Twitter on Tuesday, Rice sided with Brown that Callahan's decision to shift the game plan from a run-oriented attack to a pass-heavy offense after a week of practice was done to hurt the team.

“I was very surprised that he waited till the last second, and I think a lot of the players, they were surprised also, so in a way, maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided ‘Hey look maybe we should sabotage just a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,' ” Rice told ESPN.

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