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Jerry Rice agrees Bill Callahan sabotaged Super Bowl

Tim Brown threw some ugly accusations at Bill Callahan last Saturday, claiming the former Oakland Raiders coach essentially sabotaged his own team in a blowout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII.

If you thought Hall of Fame wide receiver and former Raiders teammate Jerry Rice would ground this strange theory, think again.

In a Tuesday call-in appearance on ESPN's "NFL Live," Rice backed Brown's assertion that Callahan intentionally hurt Oakland's chances by changing the game plan just two days before the game.

"In a way, maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided to, 'Hey look, maybe we should sabotage a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,' " Rice said.

Rice said he believes Callahan's game-plan shift "without a doubt" led to center Barret Robbins leaving the Raiders the day before the Super Bowl. Robbins disappeared to Mexico and was later diagnosed as bi-polar.

Though Rice, Brown and Callahan were all part of the Raiders' team the season after the Super Bowl, Rice said he and Brown "never had the opportunity" to confront Callahan about the possibility he had thrown the game.

As a Tuesday call-in guest on NBC Sports Network's "Pro Football Talk", Brown said he did come to Callahan with questions about the game plan. According to Brown, he received a " 'Hey, that's just what we decided to do'-type answer, and that was it."

This was an odd four-minute interview by Rice, who appeared to be parroting the quotes attributed to Brown at times. At one point, Rice stated Callahan did not like him when he first came to Oakland. It all came off like a long-retired star with a score to settle.

After Rice was through, ESPN analyst Eric Mangini defended the character of Callahan, who coached on Mangini's staff with the New York Jets in 2008.

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"There is no possible way that Bill Callahan would ever sabotage the Super Bowl or any other game as a head coach, as an assistant coach, as anybody affiliated with the team," Mangini said. "That's not who he is. When I first saw this article, I thought, 'This is ridiculous,' and the only thing that would be more ridiculous is if somebody actually believed it."

We're with Mangini. What did Callahan stand to gain by getting blown out in the Super Bowl? If he disliked the Raiders so much, why was he the head coach? Why would you risk career suicide on a stage that large?

The obvious answer is you wouldn't.

Update: Callahan issued a statement late Tuesday that read in part: "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."

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @DanHanzus.

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