THE RAIDERS SUCK!
Yeah, I’ve heard that before. Actually I’ve heard it a lot over the last ten years. It’s warranted, it’s deserved, it cannot be denied. But as a die hard fan, I can live with it. I sort of have to because I cannot see myself EVER rooting for another team. These last ten years have served as a test and a purge of the fan base. If you haven’t jumped ship by now, you are a true die hard. Be proud Raider Nation because we are survivors. We have survived a litany of bad plays, a record setting number of penalties, countless blown calls, terrible free agent grabs, and… oh yeah - Jamarcus Russell.
As Robert H. Schuller said: “Tough times never last, but tough people do.”
So what do we have to cheer for? Plenty.
When you look at the history of the AFC West, despite ten years of bad football, the Raiders are still tops in various categories. Non Raiders fans, especially our division rivals, like to rip on us as if were an expansion team like the Jaguars or Panthers. So lets take a look at how each team stands from a historical perspective, not just the last ten years (more on that later).
When measuring the history of a franchise, what is important? What are the factors that determine an organizations net worth? Most would say, championships, you know; hardware. But lets dig a little deeper and add some more categories to build the case. How about Hall of Famer’s? Winning percentage? Head to head results? Some internet searching helped reveal what I have already known. The Raiders still have bragging rights in the AFC West. Here is a break down of how each franchise weighs in on the categories listed above.
Super Bowls: three wins in five appearances (60% winning average)
Last Super Bowl appearance: 2003 (10 yrs)
AFC West titles: 12
Number of HOF’s: 13 (21)
Overall record (winning percentage): 455-381- 11 (.544)
Super Bowls: two wins in six appearances (33% winning average)
Last Super Bowl appearance: 1999 (14 yrs)
AFC West titles: 12
Number of HOF’s: 4 (6)
Overall record (winning percentage): 437- 391 -10 (.527)
Head to head v. Raiders: 44 – 59 (-15)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS:
Super Bowls: one win in two appearances (50% winning average)
Last Super Bowl appearance: 1970 (43yrs)
AFC West titles: 5
Number of HOF’s: 10 (16)
Overall record (winning percentage): 412-402-12 (.506)
Head to head v. Raiders: 53 – 50 (+3)
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS:
Super Bowls: lost in only appearance (100% losing average)
Last Super Bowl appearance: 1995 (18 yrs)
AFC West titles: 10
Number of HOF’s: 7 (11)
Overall record (winning percentage): 409-410- 11 (.499)
Head to head v. Raiders: 47-57 (-10)
Just as I thought, the Raiders are still on top.
Now lets revisit these past ten years. In those ten years, all three rival teams have won the division at least once. San Diego has the most with five , followed by Denver with three and KC with two. Congratulations. But what have you done with all those AFC West titles? Nothing actually. As a matter of fact, no team in the AFC West has made it to the conference championship game in the last ten years. Way to go Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs! Collectively you have been miserable in representing the AFC West. Way to show the rest of the league what you’re made of. By comparison, the last time the Raiders were on their Super Bowl runs, they were actually in two of the three conference championship games. They would have been in three had it not been for some obscure rule that no one had ever heard of before, that the league recently owned up to and did away with. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.
To point out the good and the bad, the Raiders also hold dubious records for the most penalties in one season and also the record for most consecutive losing seasons of ten or more losses. Also a negative for the Raiders, the league is a win now league and that puts them in the back of the line as far as recent accomplishments. As a Raiders fan however, I am undeterred. So is most if not all of the fan base that remains loyal to this proud organization. At least we didn’t have the butt fumble, right?
Looking ahead at the other teams in our division, Denver is on a limited run of two to three years at the most. Peyton Manning can’t play forever you know. San Diego’s window closed when LT left for the Jets and with an aging tight end, injury prone running back and no true number one receiver, Phillip Rivers is looking more like the latest version of Dan Fouts. Great numbers but nothing to show for it in terms of winning when it matters. The Chiefs have a new QB, but I don’t think Alex Smith is the answer. If he was, he would still be across the bay.
With training camp on the horizon, Raider Nation has a new hope for the team. Sure that sentiment rises up every year with every team, but this year there seems to be tangible proof. There are no longer overpaid/ under-performing players taking up a spot on the roster. We now have players that are on short term contracts and who are eager to play and prove that they belong in this league. With a surplus of money for the following season, you can bet some of those short term contract players are going to play their butts off to secure long term contracts in 2014. Also with that money in 2014, Reggie McKenzie can sign the players whose contracts are up for renewal and not worry about losing them because he can’t afford to, like Phillip Wheeler this past year. You also have the makings of a real quarterback competition between three to four hungry, determined QB’s, with each out to prove they deserve that opening day start. The team is also on the young side as far as average age and that bodes well for consistency and team cohesion going forward. Plus we have a future Hall of Famer who knows a thing about about winning and what it take to get there. Maybe you heard of him, he caused that fumble on that play that I’m sure you’ve heard of before.
I believe things are looking up for the Raiders. When you’ve hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up. Once that happens, the AFC West will be right again and the Raiders will retake their rightful place atop of the division. The way it was then and the way it should be.
As pointed out by some readers, there is a discrepancy in the article. There have been two AFC West teams to make the AFC championship game in the previous ten years. San Diego in 2007 and Denver in 2005, both teams lost those games. My apologies for the error.
The parenthesis in the Hall of Famers category represents players who made contributions to the team but are more associated with another team. (i.e.- Jerry Rice played for the Raiders from 2001-2004 but contributed more to the 49ers and is enshrined as a 49er)
Statistical data provided by Pro Football Hall of Fame