From Comcast SportsNetALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan has denied allegations made by two of his former players that he "sabotaged" the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago.Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before Oakland's 48-21 loss."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 24 hours," Callahan said Tuesday in a statement. "To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations."The hubbub over a game played a decade ago began Monday when Brown said on Sirius XM Radio that he believed Callahan altered the game plan because of his close ties to Gruden, the former Raiders coach who hired Callahan, and because Callahan hated the Raiders."We all called it sabotage, because Callahan and Gruden was good friends, and Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, hated the Raiders, and only came because Gruden made him come," Brown said.While many of Brown's teammates, including quarterback Rich Gannon, came to Callahan's defense on radio and Twitter on Tuesday, Rice sided with Brown that Callahan's decision to shift the game plan from a run-oriented attack to a pass-heavy offense after a week of practice was done to hurt the team."I was very surprised that he waited till the last second and I think a lot of the players they were surprised also so in a way maybe because he didn't like the Raiders he decided Hey look maybe we should sabotage just a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one,'" Rice told ESPN.Both Rice and Brown also said the decision to alter the plan less than two days before the game might have contributed to starting center Barret Robbins leaving the team that Friday night to go party in Tijuana. Robbins missed a team meeting and walkthrough and was suspended for the game. He was hospitalized and diagnosed as bipolar.Former Raiders offensive lineman Frank Middleton said in a phone interview that he didn't believe Callahan's change in game plan contributed to Robbins' problems or that Callahan purposely lost the game even if there were bad feelings between the coach and players."Callahan hated us," Middleton said. "He didn't want to see a lot of us succeed because of who we were. I do believe Callahan had bad feelings against us. But to say he threw the game, I can't say that."Middleton acknowledged that the plan the team used in the game was different than what was practiced but said he didn't know if that was because Robbins had left the team and the Raiders were forced to use backup center Adam Treu.The Raiders threw a then club-record 619 passes in the 2002 season but originally planned to run the ball more in the Super Bowl to take advantage of Tampa Bay's undersized defensive front. But Oakland fell behind early in the game and had 49 pass plays and a season-low 11 runs.Gannon threw five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, in the lopsided loss.Callahan, currently the offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys, said he tried to win the game and suggestions to the contrary were "ludicrous and defamatory.""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," he said. "I think it would be in the best interests of all, including the game America loves, that these allegations be retracted immediately."
DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.
BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this.
The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent.
- Highlights: Toronto Raptors 101, Boston Celtics 94
- Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan
- Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry
- All-Star backcourt leads Raptors down stretch to beat Celtics, 101-94
“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game. “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”
And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics.
There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan.
“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot.
The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward.
Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.
For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with.
“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”
In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well.
Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards.
“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said.
Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury.
Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.
“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”