On Sunday, ESPN premiered its latest 30 for 30 documentary called ‘The Tuck Rule’, spotlighting the infamous AFC Divisional Round playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots on Jan. 19, 2002.
When discussing that fateful game, more than 20 years later, there’s still a fire that burns within Hall of Fame Raiders receiver Tim Brown. Brown joined 95.7 The Game’s “The Morning Roast” Tuesday to share some strong takes about how that game altered both franchises. You can listen to the full interview below:
“If that thing would have been called a fumble, then the game would have been over,” Brown told hosts Bonta Hill and Joe Shasky. “They had no timeouts, we would have been sitting on the ball and that would have been it. Tom Brady’s legend? Who knows what would’ve happened, but it wouldn’t have happened that year, that’s for sure.”
With less than two minutes left and the Raiders clinging to a 13-10 lead, Charles Woodson appeared to strip-sack Brady before Greg Biekert recovered a fumble in the driving snow.
But the refs ruled it was an incompletion due to an entry in the NFL rulebook that stated: “When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.”
The Patriots went on to win in overtime and so the Tuck Rule Game was born. A few weeks later, Brady led New England to an upset win over the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36.
“I’ve said this for years, every time I talk about this,” Brown said. “Tom Brady – no matter what interview he does, whether it’s football-related or not – if not for that game, he probably wouldn’t be in the position that he’s in. He should say, ‘I wanna thank the Oakland Raiders for being who they are. OK, what was your question again?’
“Because I just thought that everybody’s, like, ‘Tom certainly would have been the starter next year.’ Stop it. Just stop it with that B.S. Because there’s no way you have a guy, your starting quarterback, let a team from the West Coast in the driving snow come in and beat you. And it was your fault because you fumbled the ball. Not saying that Tom wouldn’t have won five or six Super Bowls still, but the legacy wouldn’t have started then.”
Brown also revealed that Raiders coach Jon Gruden may have known he was bound for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even though his trade wasn’t announced until Feb. 18, 2002, nearly a full month after the Tuck Rule Game.
“Right after the game, Gruden made the statement, ‘They’re never gonna allow you guys to win here,’” Brown said. “I thought that was pretty interesting that he chose to say ‘you guys’ and not ‘us’. I went up to him after that and I said, ‘What do you mean by you guys.’ He just sort of walked away from me. Of course [a month] later he was traded to Tampa Bay, so maybe he knew something we didn’t know.”
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Gruden, of course, led the Buccaneers to a win over the Brown and the Raiders in Super Bowl 37 the next season.
After watching the documentary, which also included comments from players and coaches like Woodson, Brady, Bill Belichick and Lincoln Kennedy, Brown also said he didn’t like the way former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi tried to diminish the impact of the controversial call.
“I can’t wait to see Tedy,” Brown said. “I’ve got a couple words for Tedy when I see him. [He said] ‘You’re a tough-minded team, you just bounce back and let it go.’ Come on, bruh. Stop trippin’. If you guys hadn’t had won a Super Bowl at that time, believe me it would have crushed you.”