There are those in Bronco Nation that’ll tell you the rivalry between Denver and Oakland was born long before January 2, 1994. Denver Broncos’ players like Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Karl Mecklenberg and the rest of the Orange Crush recall the bitterness boiling between the two well back into the late ’70’s and throughout the ’80’s.
Make no mistake, Silver and Black is nowhere near Orange and Blue on the color pallet of mutual admiration. Though the competitive balance has ebbed and flowed over the years, one thing has remained a virtual constant. Neither the teams nor their respective fans care too much for each other.
My career in the National Football League had just begun when I was introduced to the then Los Angeles Raiders. It was over the course of a two week period at the end of 1993 that the rivalry became what it was for me over the next 15 years.
By Levi Damien – S&BP Lead Writer.
Former Broncos GM recalls moment Broncos, Raiders rivalry became what it is today
There are few rivalries in all of sports more bitter than the one between the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos. They became natural rivals in 1960 when they entered the AFL together in the same division. One could say the bitter rivalry started at that time, but back then they were at least on even footing with the Chiefs and Chargers.
The Raiders first bitter rival was probably the Chiefs as the two teams were the best in the AFC West back in the early days. The Broncos, on the other hand, were a laughing stock and didn’t have their first winning season until 13 seasons into their existence.
Come the 70’s the Raiders’ attention would shift outside the division altogether and to the Pittsburgh Steelers where they found a decade long thorn in their sides.
The Broncos hated the Raiders plenty, as did a few teams back in those days. But it was pretty one-sided as the Raiders always got the better of the deal. So, while the Broncos players were fuming, the Raiders were more concerned about teams like the Steelers and Dolphins.
Some hatred between the Raiders and Broncos started to brew in the 80’s when the Raiders were denied the right to trade for John Elway and he became a Bronco. But even then, the hatred from Al Davis was more geared toward the league itself and commissioner, Pete Rozelle, as the man who was angry at Al Davis for suing the league to allow him to move his team to Los Angeles.
The Raiders began the 80’s with their second Super Bowl win and began their time in Los Angeles with their third championship. In the late 80’s, with Elway at the helm in Denver and the Raiders on a downturn, the Broncos began going to Super Bowls. They lost all three of them, but they were suddenly the team to beat in the AFC and the Raiders were looking up at them for once.
Levi has been covering Oakland Raiders football since early 2008. He originally hails from the fine state of Oregon. Levi is a veteran of the US Navy. He earned his BA from San Francisco State University.
Email – LeviDamien@gmail.com Twitter – @LeviDamien