Saturday marks an important anniversary in local sports history. It will be 10 years since the Oakland Raiders let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win Super Bowl XXXVII to become NFL champions.
True, former Raiders wide receiver and Hall of Fame finalist Tim Brown spent Wednesday backpedaling from his assertion that then-Raiders coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the game by switching game plans late because he hated the Raiders so much he wanted his friend Jon Gruden to win the big game, a motion seconded by none other than Jerry Rice.
Too late, Tiny Tim!
You're an idiot!
Here we were, for 10 years, thinking the Bucs simply beat the ever-living silver and black out of Brown and his teammates, 48-21.
"Some things don't deserve a response," Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said.
Or do they?
Granted, who can forget the other teams that threw their championship games? I mean, isn't sports history one big Black Sox scandal?
Remember Super Bowl III, when Colts coach Don Shula ordered Bubba Smith to play on his knees to give Joe Namath a better view of his receivers?
And there was Lake Placid, 1980, when the Russians switched goalies against the USA just to show that Brezhnev who was boss. Do you believe in fixes? Yes!!!
Tim Brown's bilge is more than sour grapes. It's certifiably insane grapes.
Like the Bucs needed any help beating Oakland. Like Jon Gruden needed even a baby push to out-coach Bill Callahan.
"You're telling me (Callahan) threw it, Super Bowl, everything on the line?" Warren Sapp said, loudly, over the phone. "That's like being at 25,000 on Mount Everest, and you only got 4,000 feet left, crisp, clear, top of the mountain in sight, and you just go, 'Nah, I think I'll just lay here a while.' "
Brooks, when he heard Brown's comments, texted some of his 2002 championship teammates:
Didn't we beat them fair and square?
"We killed them," Keyshawn Johnson said to Brooks. "We kicked their (butts). You did your job, I did my job, we all did, and we beat them all day and night and let's just leave it at that."
There was never any question in my mind, or in the minds of Jon Gruden and his players, that the Bucs were ever going to lose that Super Bowl.
And the idea that if the Raiders had run a little more … against the best defense in the NFL, one of the great defenses in league history …
"Obviously, Tim and Jerry, they had problems with Bill," Brooks said. "And our game kind of got tied in with that. I don't know what their problems were, but the tape of that game speaks for itself — loudly.
"To think you would automatically beat us with a few more rushing attempts, that I'm not buying. A few more rushing attempts with Charlie (Garner) and Tyrone (Wheatley) — really?"
"Who was going to move me?" Sapp said. "Who in the hell was going to move me?"
Tony Dungy has won a Super Bowl. He made the Bucs defense, too. He knows the deal, and here's his take, sabotage wise:
"I've never heard of anything like that ever happening. I guess, if I really felt that way, sabotage, could I really hold it in for 10 years?"
"It was the third horizontal West Coast offense we'd faced," Sapp said. "I was faster than Tim Brown and damn near as fast at Jerry Rice."
The Raiders, in fact, were sabotaged in San Diego that Super Bowl night. It was as plain as day.
The saboteurs wore red and pewter and just a trace of popsicle orange. The saboteurs had names like Brooks, Sapp and Rice, and Lynch, Barber and Jackson, names like McCardell, Pittman and Jurevicius, names like Alstott and Johnson and Johnson.
Derrick Brooks sealed it when Bill Callahan ordered Rich Gannon to throw that interception that Brooks returned for a touchdown.
There is still pride in these parts about that 2002 season, or wherever Bucs wear those championship rings, especially when what they did, and will always have done, is questioned by anyone or anything.
"That was our game," Warren Sapp said.
Have a happy anniversary, gentlemen.