I won't lie. I suffer from a bit of anxiety everytime the Steelers' season comes to a close. I'm a blogger, obviously, and I worry about coming up with offseason material to write about. However, this offseason has been rather rich in the material department early on for yours truly.
First there was Brent Musburger, Katherine Webb and the "People Against People Who Like Beautiful People" who objected to Musburger calling Webb, Miss Alabama, "beautiful" during the telecast of the BCS title game between Alabama and the Fighting Irish. Last week, we had Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake girlfriend who unfortunately passed away.
And now this week, Steeler Nation's old nemesis, the Oakland Raiders, are back and crying about yet another postseason screw job. Only this time, it wasn't some referee or commissioner who jobbed them out of championship glory, it was themselves.
Former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown has come out and all but accused Bill Callahan, the man who took over for Jon Gruden as Oakland's head coach when Gruden jumped ship to the Buccaneers following the 2001 season, of sabotaging the Raiders chances of winning Super Bowl XXXVII against Tampa Bay by changing the game-plan just days before the game.
Here's a quote from Brown courtesy of Pro Football Talk:
"We get our game plan for victory on Monday, and the game plan says we're gonna run the ball. We averaged 340 [pounds] on the offensive line, they averaged 280 [on the defensive line]. We're all happy with that, everybody is excited. [We] tell Charlie Garner, 'Look, you're not gonna get too many carries, but at the end of the day we're gonna get a victory. Tyrone Wheatley, Zack Crockett, let's get ready to blow this thing up.'"
Brown said Callahan changed from a run heavy plan of attack to one designed to "throw the ball 60 times."
I can't believe the '02 Raiders were so caught off guard by this. I was at Heinz Field in Week 2 of that season when Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon threw the pigskin 64 times in a 27-17 victory over the Steelers.
For the year, Gannon threw the football 618 times for an average of almost 39 attempts a game. In Super Bowl XXXVII, where the Raiders lost, 48-21, to Gruden's Tampa team, Gannon attempted 44 passes--certainly not too far from the norm for the quarterback and Oakland's offense in '02.
The Bucs jumped out to a 34-3 lead. Maybe Callahan sabotaged the defense.
According to the PFT article, Brown suggested that Callahan hated the Raiders so much and was such good friends with Gruden a "sabotage" wouldn't have been out of the question.
All right, so Brown is basically saying Callahan had such disdain for his own team--and loved Gruden so darn much--he would much rather have lost a Super Bowl and tarnished his own legacy than become one of the select few coaches who actually won a Lombardi trophy?
Makes sense to me.
Have the Raiders ever actually lost a postseason game where they weren't "screwed" in the end?
Steelers fans are familiar with the Immaculate Reception and how the game-day officials were so fearful of fan retribution, they decided to award Pittsburgh a touchdown just to protect themselves.
A few years later, then Raiders' owner Al Davis claimed the grounds crew at Three Rivers Stadium intentionally iced the field in order to give Pittsburgh the advantage in the 1975 AFC Championship Game.
Then, of course, there was the "Tuck Rule" that prevented Oakland from defeating the Patriots in a divisional playoff game following the 2001 season.
According to the Raiders, they should have about XVI Super Bowl titles. And now that they're making claims of betrayal from within, I can't wait to see what happens the next time they get good enough to actually lose another playoff game.
"Raiders claim they were screwed out of wild card victory because the ghost of Pete Rozelle still had vendetta against the ghost of Al Davis."