In the past two NFL seasons, when it reached the point when the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs were eliminated from playoff contention, the San Diego Chargers were hanging by a thread, and the Denver Broncos looked to have the AFC West all but locked up, I secretly became a Chargers fan.
Not in any game in which they played the Raiders, mind you, but in just about every other remaining game on their schedule. I would grind my teeth when their offense was in the red zone, I was panic-stricken when they were on defense with a small lead in the fourth quarter, and I was overcome with joy when they won.
And it hurt. It hurt every time I caught myself rooting for an AFC West rival. But the fact is, somebody's got to win the division, and if it's not going to be the Raiders, I'd prefer it be the Chargers.
Not only that, I'd really prefer it not to be the Broncos. My hatred for the Broncos runs deep. So, the past two years when the Broncos choked and the Chargers stole the division, I was relieved.
Maybe my dislike for the Chargers is less than it is for the Chiefs or Broncos because the Raiders and Chargers haven't been good at the same time during my lifetime. Maybe it's that the Raiders, despite having lost the last 11 matchups, are well ahead of the Chargers in the all-time series.
Sure, I don't like Philip Rivers, but until he started to calm down a bit recently, he was one of the best interviews in the NFL. He was wild-eyed, screaming sentences full of randomly selected words while foam sprayed from his rabies-infested mouth. It was a riot.
Yes, I look forward to the day when LaDainian Tomlinson retires, but his 31 touchdowns in 2006 (plus the two he threw) was a pretty amazing thing to watch. The fact that he was named NFL Man of the Year (in addition to MVP) after that season for his contributions to society made it even harder to hate him. Besides, the Raiders went 2-14 that year, and Tomlinson was a distraction from that.
But I'm getting carried away. The purpose of this article was not to convince anyone else to agree with me; it was to pose this question to those of you in the great Raider Nation:
Which team is the lesser of the three evils in the AFC West?
I'll put a poll on this page, but I do hope to see some elaboration in the comments.
Thanks, and go Raiders!
P.S. The Seattle Seahawks are a valid option, so I guess there are four evils.