LAS VEGAS – Rich Gannon remembers Brian Callahan as a teenager.
During those days, Gannon was the quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, and Brian's dad was the coach.
"Brian would come out to practice, and he would throw with us," Gannon said of Brian Callahan, who was named head coach of the Tennessee Titans last month. "Back then, he'd ask a ton of questions. He was very curious, very thoughtful, very respectful. You could tell Brian was a great kid, so I took a liking to him right away and had a lot of conversations with him. We talked a lot of football."
At the time, Brian Callahan was a high school quarterback at De La Salle High School in California. Bill Callahan, Brian's dad, served as offensive coordinator with the Raiders (1998–2001) before serving as head coach (2002–2003).
Gannon played 18 seasons in the NFL, including six seasons with the Raiders, where he was named NFL MVP in 2002 while guiding the team to the Super Bowl with a win over the Titans in the AFC Championship Game.
A four-time Pro Bowler, Gannon is now an analyst for CBS, SiriusXMNFL and 33rd team.
He's in Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII.
"People who don't know Bill Callahan don't know how good of a football coach he is, and he helped my career so much," Gannon said. "I see a lot of the qualities and characteristic in Brian that I saw in Bill. I did a lot of those games in Cincinnati with Brian and (Bengals HC) Zac Taylor were just starting out and you could tell that Brian was really sharp, and Zac realized how good an asset Brian was. Brian does it the right way – there are no shortcuts with Brian. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. One of the greatest assets he has is he feels he can outwork you, and that's how Bill was as well. He would come early and stay late, and he was so detailed and so smart.
"I know Brian is the same way, and I know the experience he had being around his dad, being around Jon Gruden, being around Peyton (Manning). He's been exposed to so many people who are really fanatical when it comes to their approach and preparation and attention to detail, and I think it's a real blessing for Will (Levis) to get a guy who is like that at such a young age, a guy who can really help him get to the next level."
Callahan arrived in Tennessee after 14 years of NFL coaching experience, including the past five seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals.
While in Cincinnati, Callahan played a key role in developing Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Callahan also worked with quarterbacks Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford and Manning during stops with the Raiders, Lions and Broncos.
Gannon, who threw for 28,743 yards and 180 touchdowns during his career with the Vikings, Redskins, Chiefs and Raiders from 1987-2004, believes Levis has a chance to be a really good quarterback in the NFL.
"I watched all his throws, watched all his games (in 2023)," Gannon said of Levis. "He throws a really pretty deep ball. He has some things he needs to clean up – he needs to clean up his footwork, he needs to clean up his anticipation and his decision-making. One of the things he can get better at is the touch and timing throws. He missed some easy throws, but that comes with experience, and playing, and getting reps, and getting comfortable.
"But he's a big, tough, physical guy, and he can make all the throws. These next five months are extremely critical for Will Levis as he gets down the terminology and the verbiage. But Brian will be good for him, and he'll develop him. He understands that position because he sees the game through the eyes of the quarterback, and he has been around a lot of quarterbacks. He'll build a game plan around what his quarterback can do, what his strengths are, and that's what all the good play-callers do."
Gannon said he's looking forward to seeing how it all comes together in Tennessee.
He's high on his dad, who has reportedly been hired as the new offensive line coach with the Titans, and his son.
"I think the Tennessee Titans got a good one in Brian Callahan," Gannon said. "Brian grew up around the game at a young age. He understands the game, he understands the development of the team, building a good culture and a good environment that is conducive to winning.
"I have great respect for Brian and what he stands for and what he is all about. I think he is going to be terrific there."