There was a time when the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders were considered one of the most fierce rivalries in all of sports.
This was when players genuinely disliked and sometimes hated opposing players and made it clear, offering no apologies. You did not see them hugging and sitting in prayer circles after games.
I am not suggesting either of these teams are back to take their place in the division, or AFC, to rekindle our fond memories of their wars. I am suggesting that it might be a good idea, and well worth the theater. There are, of course, some problems associated.
I have been fortunate enough in my life to have lived through the days of Len Dawson, Darryl Lamonica, Hank Stram, John Madden, Willie Lanier, Ben Davidson, Otis Taylor and so many more.
The Raiders and Chiefs finished one or two in the division through the mid 1960's to the mid 1970's. They battled every game and in the playoffs.
By that time, the Chiefs entered what was to be their darkest period as a franchise. The Raiders did the opposite. They became one of the NFL's elite teams, along with Pittsburgh and Dallas. However even during those years, it was rare that they swept the Chiefs.
Fortunes again changed in the 1990's. For some inexplicable reason the Raiders became virtually incapable of beating the Chiefs. Kansas City won 20 of 22 games and they became an elite team, though they were never able to break through.
In this decade, they both have had ups and downs. Both with more downs.
As a fan and columnist for the Chiefs, I'm certain many of my opinions will be taken as just that, a fan. That may be a fair point, but I will try to stay the course.
The Raiders are coming off the second worst beat down in Broncos history, contrary to much of what you read. In the 1963 opening game, Kansas City beat them, in Denver, 59-7. You can do the math.
The Raider fans, for some reason seems to think that game has elevated them to a different level. I'm sure the coaching staff has made sure the team does not think that way. That aside, clearly the Raiders are becoming a much better team than they have been in recent years.
I am not going to delve into the strengths and weaknesses of each team. It becomes a circular, pointless argument. Both teams are growing and have plenty of both, strengths and weaknesses.
I am more of a "Big picture" guy.
Additionally, I am in no way suggesting that the Chargers or Broncos are no longer an issue. Many claim the Chargers have as much talent as any team in the NFL. Well, apparently that talent and three bucks will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
Until very recently, I thought the Broncos were the real threat of the division. I think, however, that game against Oakland may have done them more damage than it did good for the Raiders.
I know the Chiefs are on their way up. It is clear to almost anyone who pays attention to the NFL. You can check with others, who are not fans.
At least for the time being, I see one big difference between Kansas City and Oakland. It starts at the very top.
Since Clark Hunt took over for the late Lamar Hunt he has done a stellar job; he hired Scott Pioli who in turn hired Todd Haley who I was unsure of. After his rookie year even more so.
Haley performed like a rookie. In his second year however, he has turned the team around. He has shown maturity that many thought he didn't have.
As soon as Charlie Weiss was let go from Notre Dame I thought he would be perfect. The question was, would Todd Haley be mature enough to have someone older and more experienced come on board? The answer was yes, in fact a double yes. When they hired Romeo Crennel I was somewhat stunned.
We all know who sits atop of the Raiders. Al Davis is a legend. He has done things to shape the NFL into what it is today, but he has become a hindrance to the team. He is unstable and incapable of running a solid organization.
Whatever success the Raiders can manage at this point is in spite of Al Davis, not because of him.
As a Chiefs fan, it is federal law that I dislike the Oakland Raiders. There is, however a part of me that wants them to climb back to the top, along with the Chiefs.
One of the big differences between now and when I use to watch those old teams is the same as the rest of the changes in the world. Communication is number one. Sadly, it detracts. Everyone knows everything right away, everyone has a voice, like myself.
The sad part is the type of dialog that takes place. It is often juvenile and repugnant. Many of us with young children know we cannot not take them to certain games. It is the same on forums where legitimate debate turns into garbage. Good clean "trash talking" is one thing.
Mindless insults with no substance is entirely different, and yes, I have been guilty at times myself. I have now reminded myself not to.
Bring the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders back to the top. Let Denver and San Diego fight it out at the bottom for a while.
It will be good for both franchises, for the NFL and for football fans.
Most importantly, it will be good for Chiefs fans, because Kansas City will prevail.
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