Former Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan is defending himself after allegations that he intentionally lost Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003.
Wide receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both claim that Callahan “sabotaged” the Raiders by changing up the game plan days before the matchup with the Buccaneers, and said that Callahan wanted to lose on purpose so that his friend Jon Gruden could win.
“For some reason — and I don’t know why — Bill Callahan did not like me,” Rice said on ESPN. “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.’”
Callahan responded on Tuesday night with a statement addressing the issue, denying that he ever tried to throw a game and called the accusations “defaming”.
Here it is in full, via CBS Sports:
There are many people who are disappointed by the outcome of Super Bowl XXXVII, but none more than me. 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 twenty four hours.
To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations. Like every game I ever coached on the professional or collegiate level, I endeavor to the best of my professional ability to position my team to win. To suggest otherwise, especially at this time when it involves the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory. I have always honored the spirit of competition that drives us to sport as children and, for the lucky few, sustains us in adulthood.
Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicated my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans, is flat out wrong. I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately. I want to extend my personal and my family’s deep appreciation to the coaches, players and fans who have come forward and thoughtfully spoken out against these ill-conceived allegations.
Callahan was fired after the following season when he led the Raiders to a 4-12 record.