Al Davis hated the Broncos. Maybe it started in 1978 when an inferior (and mouthy) Bronco team finally found a way to beat the Raiders by mugging the receivers, not only at the line of scrimmage, but all of the way down the field, to destroy the vertical passing game. Or maybe it was the no fumble call that year in the playoffs that clearly cost the Raiders another Superbowl.
Al Davis responded by proposing to the owners the "five yard chuck rule" saying "It was cheating" and instant replay (hoping it would be harder to have another Super Bowl stolen away) saying it was "for the good of the game".
Al Davis hated the Broncos.
Maybe it started when Pete Rozelle nixed a perfectly valid trade of draft positions to draft Elway only to have him fall into the Broncos' lap as the result of a bizarre backroom deal by owners who were buddies. Al Davis hated the Broncos.
Maybe it started when he stole a young Mike Shanahan who was set to be "the heir apparent" as the next Broncos coach only to fire him without paying him, and watch him get re-hired by the Broncos -- this time with vengeance on his mind. By then, it was clearly "on". Every player on both teams knew when they took the field against each other, their jobs were on the line. Then there was the football thrown at Al by a Broncos player during warm-ups. Al Davis really hated the Broncos.
Remember Howie Long's first broadcasting one on one interview with Al? One of his first questions to Al: "Do you hate the Broncos?". His lip snarled, then there was that wicked Al Davis smile "No. They are just division rivals". The camera quickly panned back to Howie with the biggest "give me a break" look on his face knowing full well... Al Davis hated the Broncos.
After the Broncos made Superbowl runs in 97-98, Al proposed a rule change to eliminate cut blocking -the Broncos bread and butter-("player safety", said Al). Only the Broncos were affected by the change. Al Davis hated the Broncos.
Al's 'feelings' for the Broncos culminated on October 25, 2010, less than a year before his death. The Raiders blew out the Broncos 59-14, at Mile High. For those of you who saw that game, you know that saying "blow out" doesn't really cover it. Destroyed, devastated, humiliated -- comes closer, but still don't accurately portray what happened that day. It was the worst beatdown of an NFL team that I have ever witnessed. The cameras kept panning up to Al in the owners box. Even through tinted windows, you could see his cheshire cat smile that enveloped the whole stadium.
So badly beaten were the Broncos, they had given up by the third quarter - completely beaten and humiliated. Before the fourth quarter, the fans had left, many tearing up their tickets, perhaps vowing never to return. A lot of Bronco fans don't really know what happened in that fourth quarter -- myself included. We all know Al continued to pour it on without mercy.
Josh McDaniels was fired two weeks later. "Not because of the Raider's game" said Pat Bowlen (yeah right). So bad was the beatdown that McDaniels had "lost the team", and the fan base. You have never heard such howling.
From the look on Al's face after the game, he agreed with the great Conan the Barbarian quote "What is best in life? To see your enemies crushed, to see them paraded before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women".
I wrote this because I had a nightmare last night. I had died and arrived at the not-so-pearly gates. There was Al, looking like the crypt keeper, in a dark robe. With that wicked grin he said "How did you like them 59 points I hung on your team, in their house? F@%$#r." He left me to find the next Broncos fan.