- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2003

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Oakland coach Bill Callahan called his Raiders “the dumbest team in America” after a loss two weeks ago to the Denver Broncos.

Yet it’s hard to blame the Raiders’ collective IQ when the team is old and decrepit. The Raiders aren’t even a shell of last season’s team that reached the Super Bowl. At 3-10, Oakland could finish with its most losses in 41 years.

Nonetheless, the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens (8-5) can’t take the Raiders lightly today at Network Associates Coliseum. A loss could seriously damage the Ravens’ hopes of winning their first division title.

“They have had a lot of people in and out, and, yeah, any team that is sitting 3-10, you are going to see certain mistakes,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said. “But I also see a lot of the athletes that were in the Super Bowl last year. I see a couple Hall of Famers. We are not going to be lulled into any mistake that these guys aren’t talented and capable, particularly at home.”

This season the Raiders have placed 11 players on injured reserve, including quarterback Rich Gannon, the 2002 NFL MVP; and backup Marques Tuiasopo. Journeyman Rick Mirer is now the starting quarterback.

When Callahan called out his team, Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson responded, “I don’t want any man to call me stupid or dumb. We’re not going to stand for [stuff] like that. There’s frustration, but I don’t care what it is. If he says we’re dumb, he’s dead wrong.”

During a midweek conference call, Callahan insisted his derogatory comment about his team was taken out of context. But after last Sunday’s 27-7 spanking by a disappointing 5-8 Pittsburgh Steelers team, the controversy has not cleared up.

“It was an issue that was addressed in the team room and individually with Charles,” Callahan said. “That was something that was handled in our house. My approach is to take the high road and not create controversy out there publicly. In terms of an individual player, I have never criticized a player publicly. I have to take the high road in that respect.”

With three games remaining, Raiders owner Al Davis may show Callahan the door after this season’s flameout. The Raiders are second worst in the league against the run, allowing opponents 149.4 yards a game. Their injury-depleted front seven can be sure of getting a healthy dose of Ravens running back Jamal Lewis, the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,622 yards.

“They still play power football,” Lewis said. “They might be called one of the worst teams against the run, but that is on paper. They do some good things.”

The immediate future of the Raiders doesn’t look too bright either. Expect a massive turnover once this nightmarish season is over.

“Fortunately for me, that is not my job,” said 37-year-old wide receiver Tim Brown, a certain future Hall of Famer. “I just have to worry about me and whether I am going to come back next year. We will have a lot of guys retire, move on. And we have a lot of free agents, so this could be a wide-open place — almost like an expansion team. I know that they are going to try to keep some veterans around for leadership, and we will have to see how it shapes out.”

In two trips west this season, the Ravens have come away with two victories, beating San Diego 24-10 and Arizona 26-18. Given the Raiders’ tumultous situation, there’s no reason to believe the Ravens can’t go three-for-three.

The last time Baltimore played in Oakland, it was in the 2000 AFC Championship, a game the Ravens won 16-3 en route to Super Bowl XXXV.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide