Bill Callahan, the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, just got a promotion today. Jerry Jones took the playcalling reins away from Jason Garrett and put them in Callahan's hands. (Was Dallas's offense a problem? They ranked sixth in yards per game and 11th in Football Outsiders' DVOA stat. I guess Jerry Jones just likes changing things up periodically. As with his face.) Anyway, I'm sure everyone who's ever worked alongside or for Callahan is quite excited for him and sending along their best wishes—
Jerry Rice has come forward to say he sides with his former teammate Tim Brown in believing that Callahan wanted to lose.
Rice, who was on the Raiders team that lost Super Bowl XXXVII to the Buccaneers, said on ESPN that Callahan disliked his players, disliked his team, and was willing to let his old boss, then-Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, beat him.
"For some reason—and I don't know why—Bill Callahan did not like me," Rice said. "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.'"
Bill Callahan might be a bad coach, to be sure. He went 4-12 in his second year with Oakland, and his players despised him. Charles Woodson and Charlie Garner refused to play for him. Brown told the AP in 2003 that "nobody trusts a word [Callahan] says." In 2005, left tackle Barry Sims said of Callahan's Raiders, "About halfway through the year Callahan left, he basically stopped coaching and half the team basically shut it down." Callahan then went to Nebraska, where he had a revolting 27-22 record. (Frank Solich, his predecessor, went 58-19; Bo Pelini, Callahan's successor, has gone 48-20.) Hell, he may be a very bad coach.
But does the evidence support charges of throwing the game? Not really. Tim Brown said Callahan didn't run the ball enough. But 11 carries for 17 yards doesn't suggest a play-calling problem; it suggests a problem with the running backs and offensive line. Was Callahan supposed to start Barret Robbins? Rich Gannon's five interceptions don't really impugn the gameplan, either. They impugn Rich Gannon, who says Callahan's innocent.
Perhaps Jerry Rice should stop worrying about this mystery, which isn't terribly pressing to today's NFL fans (one doubts Gruden or Callahan will ever become a head coach again), and focus instead on this one: Rice turned 40 years old in 2002. He caught 92 passes for 1,211 yards and seven touchdowns that season. Before the Ty Law rule was enforced. At 40. Someone explain that.
Jerry Rice agrees with Tim Brown: Bill Callahan sabotaged us [PFT]