“Jimmy was just starting out,” Norvell remembered. “He was our quality control coach, which basically meant we chained him to his computer and he could never go home.
“He would literally work all night long every Tuesday night to get it ready for the 9 a.m. offensive meeting. A lot of times he wouldn't go home. He never complained. Just a really unique guy.”
A couple respected former Raiders, though, said this week that Callahan and his staff changed the team's offensive game plan just days before the 2003 Super Bowl, which Tampa Bay won in a 48-20 rout.
Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who played all but one season of his career in Oakland, said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Callahan “hated the Raiders” and might've been willing to “sabotage” the Super Bowl because of his friendship with then-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
One day after Brown's earth-shattering accusation, Rice went on ESPN and corroborated it.
“For some reason — and I don't know why — Bill Callahan did not like me,” Rice told ESPN. “In a way, maybe because he didn't like the Raiders, he decided, ‘Maybe we should sabotage this a little bit and let Jon Gruden go out and win this one.'”
Callahan released a statement condemning the suggestions, and some former Raiders players, including quarterback Rich Gannon, the NFL's most valuable player that season, offensive lineman Lincoln Kennedy and linebacker Bill Romanowski all disputed Brown's claims.
“I'm absolutely flabbergasted,” Romanowski said on a Philadelphia radio station last week. “Is he trying to be relevant for the Super Bowl?
“So you're saying that a man has a chance to cement himself in history with winning a Super Bowl and he wants to hand it over to his buddy? Give me a break ... He doesn't know what he's talking about.”
Norvell declined to speak much on the controversy, other than to strongly deny a last-minute game-plan change or any Super Bowl sabotage.
“It was a good year,” Norvell said.