Broncos-Raiders. Silver and Black versus Orange and Blue. It’s a rivalry that dates back to the inception of both teams, 1960.
But in the past 10 seasons, the Raiders have won six of their matchups to the Broncos’ 14. Some argue that the fact that Oakland hasn’t won more than five games in a season since 2002 has softened the rivalry a little. Tell that to the Raiders fans at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
“They create the atmosphere, and you love it,” said LaMont Jordan, who spent three seasons with the Raiders. “The best part about it is it’s early on, they are going to be loud and they are going to be cheering for their team. But if you get on top of them, they are going to be loud and they are going to boo their team.”
Daniel Graham is here to say that the rivalry is alive and well, and even new teammates are beginning to see that Sunday’s game has a little extra something to it.
“They understand that there is no love lost between the two teams,” he said with a smile.
The Raiders and Broncos have split the season series each of the past two years, and this year’s Raiders squad is a few seconds away from beating the San Diego Chargers in Week 1 and heading into this matchup 2-0 as well. The Oakland defense was repeatedly described in the locker room as “big, fast and physical,” and Kenny Peterson said it’s tough to find too many weaknesses on the offense.
So while the players agreed they’re going up against an Oakland team that presents plenty of challenges, it’s the crowd that had them talking in the locker room.
“Any time you get to go to Oakland, the Raider Nation, you hear the fans and the heckling and all that stuff — it’s definitely fun to play in an atmosphere like that,” Peterson said. “I remember one experience I had last year. I was out there warming up and a little kid, he might have been 7 or 8 years old, he waved me over and said, ‘Hey No. 90! No. 90!’ Then I get close to him and he flips me the bird, both hands. I’m like, ‘Where’s your mom and dad?’ — standing right next to him giving me the same.”
Graham had a similar experience, which he explained with a smile.
“A little kid was holding up a sign that had not-too-good language on there,” he said, adding that it looked like the sign was written in children’s handwriting. “They start young. Very young.”
So as the Broncos prepare for their first AFC West game of the season, it’s a chance to head to 3-0, stay on top of the division and quiet a few rowdy fans in the process.
“The goal is to win,” Jordan said. “And if the crowd turns on them, then we’re doing a good job.”
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com
Here are some pictures from Wednesday’s rainy practice session.