Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) is sacked by Denver Broncos defensive ends Malik Jackson (97) and Robert Ayers (91) at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: The biggest rival of the Denver Broncos is and always will be the Oakland Raiders.
It doesn’t matter how awful the Raiders are, that fact will never change.
Want to know how much this rivalry still means? Listen to former Broncos linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tom Jackson talk about the organization. He still despises Oakland and all it represents.
He told a story recently about how when he sees former Raiders in Canton, Ohio over Hall of Fame weekend, it’s hard for him to be friendly because of how much he hated and still hates the Raiders.
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I’m a lifelong member of the Raider Hater club. People may say this rivalry isn’t what it used to be but that’s nonsense. Those people need to sit down with Jackson, the members of the Orange Crush and the fans lucky enough to be at Mile High Stadium when the Broncos beat Oakland in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 1 1978. It was that game that Denver finally beat its heated rivals in a game that mattered. It was that game that sent the Broncos to their first Super Bowl.
Those who say this rivalry is dead need to learn their Broncos’ history. How the rivalry is now for Denver is how it was in the 1960s and most of the ’70s for the Raiders. The Broncos could never beat Oakland. So hopefully the way it is now is how it remains for a long, long time.
This is one of those rivalries for Broncos Country where the games don’t have to be close because there is so much hatred. I don’t want Oakland to ever get in contention for the division title. I hope they remain this bad as long as that sorry franchise exists.
Sure, there is history with the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers. There is the recent rivalry with the New England Patriots; especially with Peyton Manning now involved. At this point, I’m so sick of the Manning and Tom Brady talk, this rivalry doesn’t register for me.
December 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) passes the football during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
I would actually put the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers over the Patriots in terms of rivalries. There is more history with both of those franchises.
The Broncos beat Pittsburgh in Three Rivers Stadium en route to their first Super Bowl win. They also beat the Steelers on Dec. 24, 1977 in the divisional round of the playoffs for the chance to play the Raiders in the title game.
As for the Browns, all you need to say is “The Drive” and “The Fumble.”
Give me history over fake drama. The Broncos and Patriots have faced one time in the AFC Championship game with Denver winning that game. When the game is played in Denver again this season, the same thing will happen. There is no history between these two franchises. And that’s what it takes to make a great rivalry – not manufactured drama to get ratings or clicks.
In terms of the city of Denver, the only rivalry that comes close is the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. The hatred, quality of games and when those games were played made that rivalry the best in sports in the mid-to-late 1990s.
But in terms of the biggest rivals for the city and Broncos – it’s not even close. It is and always will be the Raiders.
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
In fact, don’t let Jackson hear in any of this nonsense.
Dec 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) runs with the ball in front of Denver Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (94) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports