Brown interview: Relationship was that bad

Updated: January 7, 2004, 9:28 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Bill Callahan's relationship with the Raiders deteriorated to the point that players wanted to come to blows with the former head coach.

The Raiders have been openly critical of Callahan during and following their 4-12 season -- the biggest drop ever for a Super Bowl team. Callahan was fired by Al Davis last week.

The Raiders felt that Callahan did not treat them with nearly enough respect. Following a November loss to the Broncos, Callahan called the Raiders "the dumbest team in America."

The Raiders apparently almost fought back.

"It got to a point where we're literally telling guys in the locker room, 'Nobody hit this guy, OK?' '' veteran receiver Tim Brown told Rich Eisen of The NFL Network on Monday.

Guard Frank Middleton confirmed to the network that some players objected to Callahan's methods. "A couple of times, guys thought he was challenging their manhood,'' Middleton said.

Callahan's relationship with the team began to unravel before the season began, Brown said.

"First off, he didn't want the veteran players back, and so we're back and he doesn't like that,'' Brown told the network. "So the next thing that he does, he changes the whole offense. You were the No. 1-ranked offense in the league last year. Why would you change the whole offense?

"The next thing he does is he tells everybody in training camp, 'I don't need to be your friends. I don't want you guys liking me. Just play football for me.' ''

"He did things his own way,'' Middleton said. "A lot of guys took it the wrong way. The O-line dealt with him for a longer time. We knew the way he coached and what he was trying to get out of you."

Brown told the network he never went to Davis with his complaints about Callahan. Instead, he said, he sought out senior assistant Bruce Allen.

"You were afraid that somebody was going to take a shot at him, because you thought that he was provoking guys to almost do something of that nature,'' Brown said.

Cornerback Charles Woodson has been an outspoken critic of Callahan, saying last week that the coach "really made this thing personal. When things get personal, it's not a good situation to be around people that it's personal with. I won't play for him.

"He's not the type of person you want to be around. He's just really brought a really negative vibe to this team over the course of the season."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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