Several Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were part of the Super Bowl XXXVII winning team are tired of the excuses the Las Vegas Raiders made for their loss.
Funny how the world works, in particular, the NFL. Jon Gruden rebuilt the Las Vegas (then-Oakland) Raiders only to have them get to the Super Bowl with his offensive coordinator calling the shots. In a twist of fate, he led the Buccaneers to one of the most one-sided wins against the same Raiders. There’s been several theories (or excuses) on why everything went down the way it did in San Diego. Some lay blame on center Barret Robbins’ disappearance while others believe there was something more intricate at play with Bill Callahan at the Raiders’ helm.
He’s The Center…
Regardless of what’s you might believe as a Raiders fan, many of those Bucs players are over the excuses. Josh Schrock of NBC Sports recently spotlighted several of them, and to say the least, they’re not buying it.
“The fact that your center went to Tijuana and got lost, and all of a sudden, um, he’s not the quarterback. He’s not the star wideout… not the star defensive player. He’s the center.” -Former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland
“I’ve seen [Bill] Romanowski at a couple different events, And we’ve had conversations, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well you guys got lucky because Barret Robbins was out. We had a backup center, and our game plan was to run the ball down your throat.’ OK, well, then just run your game plan. If that’s something you practiced all week then run that.” -Former Bucs linebacker Shelton Quarles
McFarland is fair to point out that while missing Robbins was huge, he wasn’t necessarily a star player. At least not to the untrained eye. Robbins was an All-Pro center for the Raiders that year, undoubtedly the glue that held that offense together. Yes, the center’s not a flashy position but to disregard it so unequivocally the way McFarland did, is short-sighted.
In fact, the same can be said for Quarles’ statement about the Raiders simply not sticking to their gameplan. “Running it down your throat” is easier said than done in the NFL. Especially when you’re talking about the biggest game of the year. Replacing the one player that touches the football every single play isn’t as simple as “next man up,” that game proves it.
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*Top Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images