Brown implores Raiders to stop bickering

Updated: November 6, 2003, 8:34 PM ET
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- As the longest-tenured member of the Oakland Raiders, Tim Brown decided it was about time he talked to his frustrated teammates.

Talk about football, talk about the Jets, talk about football games, but all this other stuff is not going to get us anywhere at this particular point.
Tim Brown

The message: Shut up and play.

Brown addressed the Raiders (2-6) this week in an effort to get them back on track after the franchise's worst start in 39 years and the public criticism cornerback Charles Woodson had of second-year coach Bill Callahan.

Callahan initiated a meeting with Woodson on Wednesday, saying they worked things out. Woodson called Callahan stubborn and said he had lost control of his team and that the Raiders were falling apart. He last went off after Oakland's 23-13 loss at Detroit last Sunday.

"There will be no more comments about all this stuff that has been happening," said the 37-year-old Brown, who's been with the Raiders since they drafted him in the first round in 1988. "I think that was the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, and the best thing to do for this team, which is more important.

"Talk about football, talk about the Jets, talk about football games, but all this other stuff is not going to get us anywhere at this particular point."

The Raiders have been looking for leadership at a time they seem so vulnerable. Quarterback Rich Gannon is injured, and so is backup Marques Tuiasosopo, leaving third-stringer Rick Mirer to start Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Many vocal members of Oakland's offensive line -- Mo Collins, Frank Middleton and Lincoln Kennedy -- have been battling injuries. So have several defensive stars, such as John Parrella and Dana Stubblefield.

"You can say whatever you want to say in this locker room, there's freedom of speech," Middleton said. "Nobody is mad at C-Wood and nobody is mad at Bill Callahan. They're two guys who have different feelings about each other. I'll leave it at that."

Brown believes the Raiders were approaching "a very divisive situation" only eight games removed from their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay. The Raiders are off to their worst start since beginning 1-6-1 in 1964.

"I have seen some divisive situations around here," Brown said. "And at this point in my career, I do not want to be going through that kind of stuff. It wasn't just me. There were other guys speaking, too. I think at some point you have got to trust a veteran's judgment in that kind of a situation. It's not like you've got people who want to run to the microphone and say things. We don't have that going on."

Brown even offered to let his teammates blame him for all the problems instead of their coaches or other players. About 10 of the Raiders watched the Patriots-Broncos Monday night game at Brown's house.

What Brown doesn't want to see is the Raiders picking sides, because that's when things could really fall apart.

"It is a tough, tough position to be in -- it's like you are siding with the coach or you are siding with the player, and that's just not cool," he said. "The only way to not be in that position is to not even talk about it. Otherwise you are going to find yourself on one side of the fence. It's hard to straddle the fence in this type situation. You can't straddle the fence."

Other veterans agree they have to set an example.

"Sometimes it's as subtle as you walk in and say, 'I feel great,' and it has an impact," defensive end Trace Armstrong said. "Then all of a sudden they say, 'I feel good, too.'''


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press