Reporting Steve Silverman
By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) Tim Brown had one chance to win a Super Bowl in his career with the Oakland Raiders.
It turned out to be a disaster.
The Raiders got hammered 48-21 by the Tampa Bay Bucs in Super Bowl XXXVII 10 years ago. The Bucs scored three defensive touchdowns and never let the Raiders come close to making it an interesting game.
Bill Callahan, the coach of the Raiders, was severely outworked and outthought by Jon Gruden, the coach of the Bucs.
Gruden had been the head coach of the Raiders through the 2001 season, so he knew his old players well. He gave the Bucs a perfect picture of how the Raiders would try to attack and Gruden played the role of Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon in practice.
Gruden had all of Gannon’s nuances down, including how he would pat the ball on his pump fakes before changing direction and cutting loose with the football.
Hall of Fame candidate Tim Brown says he now thinks Callahan sabotaged the Raiders’ effort in the Super Bowl because he was loyal to Gruden for hiring him in the first place and because he hated the Raiders’ organization.
Jerry Rice, the best receiver the NFL has ever seen, was a teammate of Brown’s on the Raiders and he concurred with that opinion.
The Raiders were slight favorites going into that game, but the Bucs were young, hungry and on top of their game. Once they had beaten Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game, there would be no stopping them.
The Raiders were older and slower. They were not as good as the Bucs and Gruden’s knowledge of his opponents gave his team an unbeatable edge.
There was nothing that the Raiders could have done to win that game. Brown and Rice have to know that they had slowed down considerably by that point and that they could not get open against the Bucs.
I covered that Super Bowl in San Diego and Brown was one of the most talkative Raiders that week.
While he appeared fully confident at the press conferences, studying film of the aggressive Bucs defense with studs like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and John Lynch had to be an eye-opening experience.
Brown caught 1,094 passes for 14,934 yard and 100 TDs during his 17-year NFL career. Those numbers make him worthy of the Hall of Fame.
During that Super Bowl week, he was asked frequently about getting a chance to work with Rice that season and what the differences were between the two in their on-field approaches.
Brown had an incredulous look on his face when he had to answer the question. He found it hard to believe that seasoned NFL observers could not see the stylistic differences between the two men.
“Look at Jerry,” Brown said. “You have the most technically correct receiver the game has ever known. He runs the most precise patterns of anyone who has ever put on a uniform.
“I’m nothing like that. If you watch me, I’m going to initiate contact and do whatever I have to in order to get open. If that means I have to get rough, I will do it. I just want to get open and catch the ball.”
Brown overstated it a bit, but his game was about using his speed, athletic ability and strength to get open and then catching the ball. If he had to rough house to get open, Brown would gladly show his toughness to get the best of a defensive back.
Brown was a game-changing receiver who gave his team a chance to win in the fourth quarter. He was often successful.
Based on his play throughout his career, the Hall of Fame voters have to give him serious consideration.
However, his ludicrous remarks about Callahan are not going to help his cause. The Raiders were simply beaten badly in that Super Bowl.
Brown’s assertion lacks logic and decency.
They may end up keeping him from getting his bust in Canton for at least one more year.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.