The AFC West, is as historic as divisions come in the NFL. The Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers have been together since the American Football League's inaugural season in 1960. Only the NFC East (Cowboys, Eagles, Washington, and Giants) has been together as long. The NFC North is close with the Vikings joining the division in 1961.
Sure, the Seattle Seahawks came and went during that time and, yes, even the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 'enjoyed' a winless record as a member of the AFC West in 1976, but it has always been the Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers.
I'm sure that others dislike Chiefs and Chargers fans more in many parts of the country, but for me, nobody is more annoying than Raiders fans.
It has been an absolutely wonderful fourteen years. In 2002 the Raiders lost horribly to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII and never recovered. At the time, the Raiders were the jewel of the West with more wins and Super Bowls than the other teams. With single digit wins ever since that Super Bowl, the non-winning seasons have piled up and that commanding stance has withered.
The 1960's started off great for the Broncos. The Raiders were awful and Denver was competitive. Then, the Broncos swirled the toilet for the rest of the 1960's and much of the early 1970's. Oakland kicked Denver's butts up and down the field with so much consistency that the record between teams was so tilted in Oakland's favor that many wondered if Denver could ever catch up. Then, fourteen years of what is quintessentially Oakland-brand football happened. A 30+ game advantage in the all-time record now dwindles at only 11 games. Shut yer yapper Raiders fans.
For a long time the disparity in Super Bowl wins was something Raiders fans held as a sign of their supremacy in the AFC West. Sure, their last win was in 1983 when asbestos was still cool, but who cares, right? Raider village (let's be honest, we've seen their baseball stadium with the tarped off seats, we all now they lack the population to be recognized as a legitimate 'Nation') rested on the laurels of ancient teams for too long. There was nothing better in this world than crushing that joy when the Broncos won in Super Bowl 50 and evened the Super Bowl count in the division. Never mind the fact that the Broncos already had the advantage in AFC Championships and overall league wins long before the 2015 season started. Sit down Raiders fans.
...and now there is little left to hold on to. One Raider fan I know loves to mention that they beat the Broncos at home during our 2015 Super Bowl season. While the commanding 15-12 victory the Raiders eeked out is impressive, it doesn't matter. Everything that happens during a Super Bowl season happens the way it's supposed to. Find comfort where you can, Raiders fans, you got that win, the Broncos got a trophy, parade, rings, and an appointment to meet the president. For the record, in that game the Raiders beat the Broncos? You know, the one time in the last nine meetings? The Raiders were held to negative yards in the first half. Hush, Raiders fans.
The best part is about to come for Raider hating Broncos fans. Without the wins, good players, or ownership, the Raiders have held on to their 'mystique' as proof that they are still special. The Black Hole, their mascara, plastic skulls spray painted and hot-glued to children's shoulder pads are what they're all about. Throwing batteries at the players, beating up fans in the stands, throwing cups of pee on folks are a tremendous source of pride for the Raider fan base, classy folks that they are. However, with their likely move to Las Vegas, that crap is going to come to a screeching halt with a quickness.
Las Vegas will become a visiting team vacation destination. The rowdy behavior that they so relish will be quashed in favor of a family friendly atmosphere. Silver and Black will be hard to come by as Steelers, Packers, Broncos fans and everyone else will make attending a game part of their vacation plans. Vegas will want and get a full stadium. The Raiders violent fan traditions will be at odds with that goal and ultimately lose out. Sorry fans, after the move if you want to recapture that Raider Nation feeling, you'll just have to dump cups pee on each other.
So here we look at the 2016 season. Raiders fans are absolutely sure that this is their year. They see Kalil Mack, a non-Al Davis owned team, stability in the front office, and stability in coaching. Here comes the optimism that will evaporate before the leaves fall off the trees. What the rest of the NFL sees is a team with an unproven quarterback, an owner with a haircut that makes me want to hand him change on a street-corner, a front office that, despite all praise, hasn't been able to find 9 wins with both hands and a flashlight, and a head coach who has only had three winning seasons in his entire head coaching career. Let me say that again, Jack Del Rio has only had three winning seasons in ten years of head coaching. What on Earth convinced Raider fans that he'll suddenly figure it out when he clearly hasn't ever before?
Keep hope alive, Raider Village! The 2016 season is right around the corner and your fifteenth consecutive non-winning season lies just a little beyond that. I recommend you stock up on some waterproof mascara for your Skelator/Darth Raider costume... You're going to need it.
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