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Restoring an historic rivalry - Broncos v. Raiders

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Broncos versus Raiders is about to become a relevant rivalry again.

Good morning, Broncos Country!

I am so over the offseason. Like, over over. Nothing I hate more than senseless drama, endless debates or stupid rankings.

On the other hand, there's nothing I love more than reminiscing about great moments in Broncos history - whether it's the glory days of decades past or recent awesomeness (more Super Bowl 50 anyone?) - and the offseason is perfect for that.

So set aside your defense of Tebowmania and pay zero attention to the latest attempts to make the Von Miller contract impasse more than it is - and join me for some good old-fashioned Raider hating, best Broncos comebacks, a little trivia and, of course, some MHR Hall of Fame promotion.

'They were easy to hate' - Tom Jackson

It's hard for many younger Broncos fans to appreciate the level of hate required when playing the Oakland Raiders because of the team's total meltdown in the past decade from one of the most-feared to easily the most-jeered. Because of this, too many fans are under the false impression that our storied rivals include the Patriots or (gasp!) even the Chiefs.

Not true.

The oldest, truest rivalry is with the Raiders - a team always known for its nastiness, and up until a 10+ years ago, its AFC dominance. For some context, in the 60s, the Raiders owned the rivalry with a 15-4-1 record. The following decade, it was a 14-6-1 advantage. The 80s and 90s were more evenly matched at 10-9 and 11-10 respectively - when the hate reached a boiling point. It wasn't until the 2000s that the Orange and Blue got the upper hand with a 13-7 record over the Silver and Black. And you know well how lopsided it has been the last six years: 8-4 Broncos.

I know this will not be a popular opinion around here - especially with all the Broncos Country concern that Chiefs and Raiders fans like to tout "winning the offseason" - but Jack Del Rio has been quietly assembling a Raiders team that could resurrect its relevance of old.

Don't get me wrong, Khalil Mack is no Miller, and the Derek Carr - Amari Cooper connection will still be broken up time and again by our No Fly Zone. And, after all, it is still Del Rio in charge there.

But it would be naive not to notice the Raiders getting better and becoming a formidable opponent once again. With Carr, Mack and Cooper having another year under their belts, and strong additions such as Karl Joseph, this Raiders team is going to get harder and harder to beat up on, maybe even beat.

I, for one, love this. It is far more satisfying to get a win on The Raiduhs when they are good. Otherwise, you find yourself feeling sorry for the Raiders and their pathetic, 1980s-KISS-dressed fans who cannot spell worth a damn.

raiders 2

A month ago I compiled a post of the staff's picks for the Broncos' three best games ever after the NFL announced it was going to put three storied games from every team in full on YouTube (and if you'd like to go vote for your favorite game, NFL gives you that opportunity here).

As much fun as it was to highlight more than 20 amazing Denver wins, it was the games and plays brought up in the comments that made that post even more worthwhile.

As expected, several favorites included big wins over the Raiders in the 70s - beginning, of course, with the favorite and obvious 20-17 improbable victory in the 1977 AFC Championship.

And there was a much less well-known but equally astounding 1973 game when the Broncos made their Monday Night Football debut. The game ended in a 23-23 tie, which was as good as a win for the Broncos against a hated powerhouse.

Finally, there was the regular-season 30-7 trouncing of the Raiders in Week 5 of the 1977 season. Oakland was the defending Super Bowl champion, and the Broncos had never made it to a playoff game. This was the game kicker Jim Turner faked a field goal play then caught a pass for a 25-yard touchdown. It's also the game in which linebacker Tom Jackson ran along the sidelines yelling, "It's all over fat man!" to Raiders coach John Madden.

It almost doesn't get better than that - except for Jackson saying he doesn't remember a time not coming out of the locker room telling the Raiders, "I intend to kick your ass today."

As it should be done every year.

So in honor of this rivalry being restored to the top of the AFC West where it belongs, let's revisit its colorful early past via this excellent video (pointed out to me by one of our readers - thank you, anonymous Raider Hater!)


Best Broncos comebacks

Andrew Mason has been doing his "Five Best" series this offseason on denverbroncos.com, and it is definitely worth your time. From players to positions to moments in history, Mason has put together a fantastic archive of outstanding memories over the Broncos' storied history.

Presumably today he will announce his No. 1 choice for greatest comeback. His first four include:

5. Five best Broncos comebacks: Broncos 18, Dolphins 15 (OT), 2011

4. Five best Broncos comebacks: Broncos 30, Patriots 24 (OT), 2015

3. Five best Broncos comebacks: Broncos 21, Colts 19, 1983

2. Five best Broncos comebacks: Broncos 37, Seahawks 34, 1979

So what game in your opinion deserves Mason's No. 1 comeback in Broncos history?

  • Manning's 24-point comeback in 2012 to beat the Chargers, 35-24?
  • "The Drive," where Elway led the Broncos 99 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds, allowing a Rich Karlis game-winning field goal in OT?
  • The Drive II in which Gary Kubiak held a wobbly ball for David Treadwell to kick a playoff-winning field goal and win 26-24.
  • Or ... what's your guess?

Broncos Trivia

Back by popular demand (or, at least, by necessity to fill some time and space) are a few more gems to get your Broncos brains ticking early on this Friday morning (answers provided in the comments at the end of the day):

  • At 94 yards, which player holds the record for the longest punt return and which opponent/year?
  • Which running back wore No. 47 from 1982-88?
  • Which player posted a club-record 61 takeaways in his 11 years with the Broncos (and what was the number of INTs v. fumble recoveries)?
  • Which Bronco ran five yards on 4th-and-2 late in the fourth quarter to seal the Broncos' 26-16 win over the Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship?
  • In Terrell Davis' 61 regular season games from 1995-1998, how many touchdowns did he score total?
  • What player held the record as the Broncos' leading wide receiver from 1960 until 1999?
  • DeMarcus Ware entered his first season with Denver (2014) as one of only six NFL players to have led the league in sacks two different years. Who are the other five?

MHR Hall of Fame

Three down, two to go. Today, the cream of the crop - members - will open for nominations, and Monday will feature former authors, so be ready for those!

In the meantime, if you haven't nominated and/or rec'd the first three... Do. It. Now.

Horse Tracks - docllv's "picks of the week"

Picture This: Broncos draw self portraits
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10 years of Fabian Cancellara's storied Tour de France career | Cyclingnews.com
I know not enough of you are into the Tour de France, but I know you appreciate greatness. Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara is definitely among the greats - and second only to current defending champion Chris Froome in days in maillot jaune of current peloton.

Horse Tracks

Broncos, Von Miller nominated for a pair of ESPYS, snubbed in other categories – The Denver Post
The Broncos and linebacker Von Miller made their presence felt in the NFL this year, winning Super Bowl 50. They may do the same at ESPN'S annual award show, the ESPYs.

John Elway selected as PFWA's Jack Horrigan Award winner
The Professional Football Writers Association has given John Elway an award for his candor and helpfulness with media.

ESPN’s 53-man roster projection is about right for Broncos | Broncos Wire
Broncos Wire takes a look at a recent ESPN list projecting the team's final 53-man roster.

Kiszla: Von Miller doesn’t regret ultimatum to Broncos, but does he have guts to sit out 2016 season? – The Denver Post
I'm no fan of Kiszla, but this article makes an interesting point.

AFC East Q&A: Can offensive-minded Adam Gase thrive in division? - Miami Dolphins Blog- ESPN
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AFC West Q&A: Is Alex Smith good enough to lead the Chiefs to a title?
Rival ESPN AFC West reporters debate whether Alex Smith is good enough for the Chiefs to win a championship.

Sacco Sez: NFF honors Archie Manning
The National Football Foundation will be give an enormous honor to Archie Manning for his leadership and contributions.

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Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. On this week’s show (June 21, 2016), we talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers’ victory in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and wonder how much championships matter when we talk about history’s greatest players and teams.

Young camper says 'Go Patriots!' at Steve Smith's football camp - New England Patriots Blog- ESPN
You've got to be bold to troll Ravens receiver Steve Smith at his own football camp.

Report: Richard Gordon had been evaluated for mental illness three times | ProFootballTalk
When an NFL player is arrested for domestic violence and has an assault rifle in the back of his car, it's easy to miss details which can cast the story in an entirely different light.

Eric Decker wants resolution on Ryan Fitzpatrick before camp | ProFootballTalk
Jets coach Todd Bowles said last week that there's no "drop-dead deadline" for the team to come to an agreement with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but one of Fitzpatrick's top targets from last season feels like there should be one.

Ben Affleck launches epic "Deflategate" rant on new HBO show – The Denver Post
Ben Affleck gave former ESPN personality Bill Simmons’ new HBO talk show a lively start with a five-minute, expletive-filled rant on "Deflategate."

Dream Chaser | The Players' Tribune
I have never been a guy to settle on one dream. And I will never regret having a lot of dreams - by Martellus Bennett.