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Tim Brown’s allegations about Super Bowl XXXVII fade, but questions remain


We agree wholeheartedly with the opinions expressed by Peter King in his latest Monday Morning Quarterback and elsewhere regarding the merit (or more accurately lack thereof) of former Raiders receiver Tim Brown’s non-allegation allegation that former Raiders coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” a 10-year-old Super Bowl. But some questions remain as the latest Super Bowl week commences.

First, will 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh be asked about the situation at one of his many media availabilities this week? Harbaugh, who was a first-year offensive assistant with the Raiders in 2002, wasn’t asked about it on Sunday night when the team arrived. And given the extent to which the story has faded in recent days, he may not be asked about it at all.

Second, did the Raiders’ game plan change two days before the game? Brown’s ludicrous opinion of sabotage comes from his belief, as a factual matter, that Callahan changed the game plan. So did he? There has been no definitive answer provided to that question.

Third, did the Raiders fail to change audibles and line calls? It has been presumed for nearly a decade that the Raiders didn’t account for the fact that former Oakland coach Jon Gruden knew the code words that would be used at the line of scrimmage on offense. But Peter King’s dismantling of the sabotage theory in the latest Monday Morning Quarterback extends to the notion that the Bucs knew what the Raiders were planning to do. The game broadcast, however, contained strong evidence to the contrary.

Tampa Bay safety John Lynch wore a microphone, and he plainly can be heard telling former Bucs defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin after the Raiders fell behind 20-3 late in the first half, “Mike, every play they’ve run, we ran in practice. It’s unreal.”

Said Tomlin, “I know.”

Whatever the reason, the Buccaneers’ dominance was enough, we’re told, to prompt Raiders receiver Jerry Rice to rip the microphone he was wearing during the game from his pads and flush it down a toilet at halftime.

Fourth, given that King believes Brown’s assertion is “utterly preposterous” and that King is one of the voters for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, will this mess keep Brown out for another year? The voters will swear that they don’t consider anything other than what happens on the field, in accordance with the Hall of Fame’s bylaws. But as we explained in our one-time-and-one-time-only PFT season preview magazine (which apparently made a cameo appearance several months ago in an episode of Mike & Molly on CBS), the human beings who cast the votes are influenced by the things that tend to influence the decisions made by human beings.

If it’s a close call between Brown and someone else as a given voter makes the excruciating descent from 15 modern-era finalists to up to five modern-era enshrinees, Brown’s assertions could be viewed, consciously or otherwise, as reflecting the kind of disrespect for and misunderstanding of the game that could be the factor pushing that person one way or the other.

There would be no hard proof of it, and none of the voters will risk their vote by proclaiming publicly that they sabotaged Brown’s candidacy in part because of his claim of sabotage. But it definitely could, in a close case, be a factor -- and we’d never know that it was.