ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Karma, as any Oakland Raiders fan will tell you, has a way of coming around. So yeah, seeing Tom Brady get strip-sacked late in Super Bowl LII on a play that looked eerily similar to one 16 years earlier -- which will forever be known in the streets of Silver and Blackdom as the Tuck Rule -- was strangely satisfying to Raider Nation.
Because, as the late Al Davis said, the Tuck Game was indeed the “undoing of a lot of things,” serving as Jon Gruden’s final game as Raiders coach and beginning more than a decade of dismay for Oakland. But it was also the launching point of a dynasty outside of Boston, a run that included five Lombardi trophies for the New England Patriots and just two winning seasons in Oakland.
You remember the details ... Raiders clinging to a late lead in a snowstorm during a divisional playoff game on the road on Jan. 19, 2002, Charles Woodson blitzing and knocking the ball away from Brady with 1 minute, 50 seconds to play, Greg Biekert jumping on the ball, Brady trudging off the field, head down, figuring the Patriots' season was over, before the Tuck Rule is invoked, giving New England new life, and the Patriots went on to win in overtime.
And here is where Raiders Hall of Fame receiver Tim Brown weighs in.
Was having a conversation today with some folks and a interesting question came up... will the Patriots dynasty that started with a "fumble" end with a "fumble"?.. only time will tell..— Tim Brown (@81TimBrown) February 6, 2018
Remember that whole karma thing? Well, the Tuck Rule was erased in 2013.
And good thing for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Because it was with 2:16 remaining and the Eagles clinging to a five-point lead Sunday when Brandon Graham burst through to strip-sack the now-40-year-old Brady, who continued his throwing motion through the play, and Derek Barnett recovered the fumble to essentially seal the win.
Sure, the Eagles still had to kick a field goal and survive a last-second Hail Mary pass into the end zone to claim their first NFL title since 1960, when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House.
But you get the drift.
Even Raiders fan MC Hammer got involved.
Ain't no tuck rule today !!!!Go Raiders !!!!! Oh I'm flashing 😂— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) February 5, 2018
Then there’s this for those intrigued by the Raiders’ pending move to Las Vegas by 2020: The Tuck Rule against the Patriots in the 2001 NFL playoffs is to the Raiders and Raider Nation as Greg Anthony’s controversial/phantom fifth foul versus Duke in the 1991 Final Four is to Gucci Row and the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, the university which will be the Raiders’ partners in the new $1.9 billion domed stadium off the Las Vegas Strip.
Think about it ... the Raiders have not been right since the Tuck Game and the beneficiaries of the call in New England have gone on to unimagined success. Same with UNLV hoops, which has gone to only one Sweet 16 since the halcyon days of Jerry Tarkanian, Larry Johnson and Raiders superfan Stacey Augmon, while Duke has won, yes, five national championships (the same number of Super Bowl titles the Patriots have, with the first coming on the heels of a controversial call). And all with the same coach. Coach Hoodie, Coach K. Coach K, Coach Hoodie.
Raiders fans have a palpable dislike for the Patriots; UNLV fans feel the same way about the Blue Devils. Both fan bases blame their not-so-traditional rivals at the root of their demise, so to speak. Hey, even the "Rai-ders" and "Re-bels" sing-song chants sound the same.
No, this isn't the Lincoln-Kennedy coincidence coin, where Lincoln's secretary, Kennedy, warmed him not to go to the theater, and Kennedy's secretary, Lincoln, warned him not to go to Dallas. Or Booth running from a theater and getting caught in a warehouse with Oswald running from a warehouse and getting caught in a theater.
But even Lincoln Kennedy, the Raiders' right tackle in the Tuck Game, wondered how different NFL history would be had the initial call of fumble not been reversed.
“I don’t think Brady makes the Hall of Fame,” Kennedy said a few years back. “I don’t think [Bill] Belichick becomes a Hall of Fame coach.”
Has this thing come full circle, then, with Gruden returning to Oakland, almost as if to lift some sort of Tuck Rule-induced curse, two years before the move to Las Vegas?
“Brady fumbled that ball,” Gruden growled 40 seconds into his re-introductory media conference last month, referencing his last game as Raiders coach.
This time, thankfully for the Eagles and, maybe even for Raiders fans, it was called as such. And the call stood.