Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs: What makes a rivalry?

Dustin Bradford

From my perspective, there hasn't been one in a great many years against the the Chiefs. Why? Couldn't really tell you.

Rivalry is supposed to be one of those things so far ingrained into a fan's DNA that it survives generation to generation as if a genetic trait was being passed on from father to son and so on and so forth. But for the life of me, here is the sum total of my Chiefs memories:

Joe Montana beats John Elway on Monday Night Football

Elway beats Chiefs in last minutes of the game and tortures Marty Schottenheimer once again

Broncos beat Chiefs on way to Super Bowl Title (1997 Divisional Round game in Arrowhead)

Dante Hall breaks Bronco Mike's heart

Douchebag refuses to shake other douchebag's hand

Kyle Orton beats Tebow 7-3

Chiefs are our whipping boy on way to #1 seed (last year)

As a point of reference I was born in 1984 so anything up until about 1988-89 is 2nd hand knowledge. But really, what makes a rivalry? Success makes a rivalry.

Some of the biggest hate filled tirades I've gone on shouting at the television have been against the Oakland Raiders circa the Jon Gruden/Rich Gannon era. A close 2nd would be the Phillip Rivers lead Chargers of the mid 2000's...the same team that seemed to hold over us for so long no matter what we did.

So what makes a rivaly?


Up until this year, the last time the Broncos and the Chiefs had a serious rivalry going was at the tail end of the John Elway era in Denver. There were some teams here in there during the 2000's, but in my earliest memories as a Broncos fan going back to my teenage years, I can always remember my pops telling me "The Chiefs are tough, this is going to be a hard fought game!"

In 1997 the Broncos were coming off a 13-3 record with a disappointing loss in the AFC Wildcard Round against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That entire year seemed like one giant uphill battle. From the start, the Broncos opened up at home against the Chiefs and won rather easily 19-3. From there, the Broncos would go on to rattle off 6 straight wins and a 9-1 record heading into a November date with the 7-3 Kansas City Chiefs. You want to know what else Broncos fans have been brought up to fear? Arrowhead late in the season.

Well, long story short, after squandering a 13-0 lead, and clawing back to take a 22-21 lead late in the game, the Chiefs marched down and Pete Stoyanovich nailed a 54-yard game winning field goal to give them the game. Unreal. From there, the Broncos dropped two of the last six and the Chiefs won out. Kansas City finished 13-3 with the #1 seed in the AFC, and the Broncos finished 12-4 and the #5 seed, destined to ground out a path to the super bowl on the road.

Broncos fans know this well. That entire offseason was named the "Revenge Tour" This was because each team we eventually beat happened to be a team that had beaten us that season or the year before. The first stop was a home date against the Jacksonville Jaguars who had beaten us the year before in the playoffs as a wildcard team. 42-17 easy as cake.

This set up the return bout with the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Arrowhead in January. Holding on to a 14-10 lead, the Chiefs were poised to take the lead with about two minutes left. Instead something curious happened, in what became the motto of the Marty Schottenheimer era in KC, they choked. The Chiefs badly mismanaged the clock, and QB Elvis Grbac tried to heave a throw to the endzone on 4th down when he had a guy wide open to move the chains. Broncos win.

That entire game was nothing short of nauseating. Back and forth, tough, hard-nosed football where you could feel the tension and thought to yourself that at anytime all it would take is one play to turn the tides for good.

This is the stuff that rivalry is built out of. Not poor sportsmanship between two douchebags, or a snoozer between two lousy quarterbacks.

Broncos fans still remember the Monday Night Duel between Elway and Montana, and they still remember that AFC Divisional game to go along with that monstrous hit Steve Atwater put on Christian Okoye. In essence we remember greatness, and that's what makes a rivalry.

There is a new chapter to be written, and hopefully 8-1 vs 9-0 will be one for the ages.

The Unstoppable Force Vs. the Immovable Object

What are some of your favorite memories from this rivalry???


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