Earlier this season, cornerback Charles Woodson called out Callahan, who was an assistant for four years before becoming the head coach last season, for being too stubborn and egotistical to listen to the team's veteran players. Those statements seemed like nothing more than loose lips but when several other players have since joined Woodson in piling on Callahan – that is a pattern, folks. Not to mention a full blown player revolt when no player to speak of is supporting him.
Woodson was one of two players along with running back Charlie Garner to be suspended for Sunday's game after reportedly missing a team function at 9 p.m. and the 11 p.m. curfew Saturday. To be fair, Callahan was right in his disciplinary action for those individuals because players have responsibilities as well.
When highly respected players such as wide receiver Tim Brown and Rich Gannon, however, are openly questioning the coach there is definitely something wrong. Brown, Gannon and other veterans have also openly criticized the coaches for making radical changes to the playbook after an AFC championship season along with disciplinary issues.
Cornerback Terrance Shaw, safety Anthony Dorsett and defensive tackle Rod Coleman are other players that have done likewise. Brown said on his weekly radio on KNBR Monday Brown suggested that Callahan's behavior from training camp was a strong sign that he wanted out of Oakland.
"There was no doubt in my mind that this guy didn't want to be here anymore," Brown said in an interview with host Tom Tolbert. "He coached to get fired and that's what I think should happen to him."
Brown also added that Callahan said many things to make enemies with the players and continued that trend throughout the season.
"One time after practice he called everybody up and said, ‘Guys, I don't want anyone of you guys to be my friends. I've got friends outside the game,'" Brown said. "So at that particular time in training camp, you are separating yourself from the team."
Granted, it's not necessarily the coach, or any boss's, job to be "friends" with those working under him, but when players do not trust the coach as Brown suggests you cannot expect things to go smoothly. Plus, regardless of your profession, if you are working for a boss who feeds consistent negativity and does not communicate well, as the players suggest, it's only human nature to feel under-appreciated and not be willing to give that boss maximum effort.
Callahan managed to survive Black Monday unlike Chicago's Dick Jauron, Arizona's Dave McGinnis and Buffalo's Gregg Williams. Just don't expect him to survive the next 24-72 hours.
Injuries did not make his job any easier as Oakland had 12 players conclude the season on injured reserve. But players, respected veterans at that, not trusting – or respecting – the coach? Well, that's a whole different set of circumstances.
Brown brought up two separate incidents when Callahan was an assistant coach in 1998 and 1999. Brown added that Callahan walked off the field on both occasions only to apologize later. Perhaps, that should have told something. Coaches have to exemplify leadership. It's one thing to be passionate but how can a coach gain respect for that, among other things.
If a coach doesn't have the respect of the players, he's got nothing.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org