Created on: January 24, 2013
Tim Brown is a former wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, a team that played in the 2002 Super Bowl and lost in a lopsided game. Brown has been in the news for making comments about Bill Callahan, who was the coach of that team. Specifically, Brown intimated that Callahan sabotaged the 2002 Super Bowl by making certain key decisions at the last minute. Or, is that really what Brown said? Could people have misunderstood his intentions? Callahan has
vehemently denied these allegations, and Brown’s comments have been heavily scrutinized by various media outlets. As the story has unfolded, it has become clear that the greatest mistake may have been the selection of certain words.
Brown’s comments suggested that Callahan may have sabotaged the team by installing a new game plan only days before the Super Bowl. This game plan was apparently understood by opposing coach Jon Gruden, who led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the 48-21 victory. In addition, the shift in strategy may have contributed to the departure of Oakland center Barret Robbins, who did not end up playing in the game. The comments of Tim Brown also argued that the two coaches were close friends, and that Callahan may have sabotaged the game in order to allow his friend to win. Other former players have come down on both sides of the issue.
Of course, the story has now changed somewhat as Brown was recently a guest on the “Dan Patrick Show.” On that show, Brown stated that he never actually suggested Callahan sabotaged the game. Instead, Brown stated, “I should have said we could have called it sabotage. It was a question, not a statement.” In other words, Brown’s error may have been in his choice of words and the context in which they were stated. Nevertheless, Brown has maintained that he has a number of questions about Callahan’s strategy.
The challenge is that the word “sabotage” is often associated with an intentional or calculated strategy designed to create a definitively sinister outcome. It is difficult for people to read that word and not assume that some sort of conspiracy was in place. In this case, it may be that Brown was trying to argue that Callahan’s actions created a result that resembled sabotage. Unfortunately, his statements were interpreted as a direct attack on Callahan and his motives. This story may eventually fade away, but it is a reminder that words can be powerful, and sometimes misunderstood.
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