For the past ten years, the Oakland Raiders, to say the least, have been downtrodden.
This is no longer opinion, but fact. Before that? Different story.
Before the Raiders were destroyed by Tampa Bay in January 2003 by their former coach, they were one of the most successful teams in the NFL. In fact, that particular Super Bowl made them the only NFL team to make an appearance in the game in FOUR different decades. Commitment to excellence was a well-deserved mantra; though certain teams may have more rings, the Raiders were consistent contenders.
You can think of them like the Peyton Manning-led Colts over a span of about 40 years — probably didn’t win as many championships as they should have, but they were always a threat.
And, as a result? Every team hated them. On more than one occasion, I’ve come across a list of NFL rivalries where “Raiders vs. Everyone” was on it.
And while that’s a mostly true statement, a few teams stood above the rest in terms of hatred, earning the hate of the Raider Nation as well. Who are their biggest foes?
5) Kansas City Chiefs
Though this is a pretty fierce division rivalry, it has certainly faded in recent times. Due to the lack of contemporary success by both franchises, it has lost a lot of its luster. No doubt, though, these two teams were the top dogs when the AFL came to fruition, were the AFL’s first two representatives in the big game, and both suffered defeat at the hands of Vince Lombardi’s Packers.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers
Another classic rivalry. Most of the hate developed in the 1970s when the Steelers acted as a constant thorn in the side of the Raiders. An exclamation point was placed on the vitriol when the two met in the 1972 Divisional Playoffs. The Raiders were up 7-6 when a illegal fluke play occurred that allowed Franco Harris to score the game-winning touchdown, and be forever associated with the “Immaculate Reception.”
Oakland finally broke through in 1976 when the defeated the Steelers in the AFC Championship 24-7 and went on to win their first Super Bowl. This meant so much to the late Al Davis that the score of the game was put on their championship rings.
3) San Diego Chargers
Given the pretty abhorrent history of the Chargers, this rivalry is much more recent. But, the hate developed quickly within the Raider Nation, watching guys like LaDainian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers run roughshod all over the team these past ten years.
Plus, San Diegans love to talk incessantly about San Diego and how the Mexican food is SO MUCH better down there. Whatever.
Additionally, this is the closest thing we have in the NFL to a NorCal-SoCal rivalry, which is a nice added dimension.
2)San Francisco 49ers
The only non-conference rival of the Raiders, the Bay Area will never be big enough for these two franchises.
Considering how little they play, there is an incredible amount of disgust the Raider Nation holds for the team across the Bay (and, in 2014, down south).
The proximity is the driving force behind this struggle for Bay Area supremacy, and with the Niners having both more Super Bowl rings and appearances, along with a better chance of making it back in the near future, they have the edge. Of course, this fuels the rage of the Raider Nation.
1) Denver Broncos
This is one of the best rivalries in sports, as these two play twice a year, and many times has it been for the AFC West crown. When one is doing well and the other poorly, the team doing poorly will often play spoiler.
Plus, the Raider Nation always makes a strong appearance when the game is in Denver, giving Bronco fans more reason to despise the Silver and Black.
The Raiders owned them until quarterback John Elway finally won two rings at the tail-end of his career. Now, he’s the executive VP of football operations for the Broncos, making him the ultimate face of the franchise. Which fits, since he looks like a horse.