- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC West:
Best talent evaluation: We’re going with the Chargers here. I like what the Chiefs have done in the past two years. But the truth is, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith has built a consistent winner in the past seven years. The Chargers have talent throughout the roster and are deep at key spots. Smith has a plan and he clearly knows how to build a quality roster.
Best training camp venue: The Raiders’ training camp facility in Napa, Calif., is second to none. This is not simply just the best camp site in the AFC West, but it’s the best camp site in the entire NFL. How can it be argued? While many NFL teams hole up in college dorms during training camp, the Raiders stay at a Marriott resort in the heart of wine country. Many players around the league need to rent bikes to get around massive college campuses to go to the cafeteria, training room, practice field, dorms and meeting rooms. Everything is centrally located at this spot. It’s the only private camp in the NFL, and it's first-class all the way.
Best coaching staff: I really like the Chiefs’ staff. There is a reason why this young team came together last season, went 10-6 and won the AFC West title after winning a total of 10 games in the three previous seasons. Kansas City head coach Todd Haley often praises his coaching staff, and he knows how strong it is. This is a staff that relies heavily on teaching and communication. It has two former NFL head coaches on the staff in defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and new quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn. Offensive assistants Bill Muir and Maurice Carthon are also top-notch coaches.
Best celebrity fan: When you think about Ice Cube, the Raiders have to come to mind. One of the reasons is that he is often wearing a Raiders cap when he is out in public. Ice Cube grew up in Los Angeles and became a Raiders fan when the team moved to L.A. in the early 1980s. Ice Cube, a renowned rapper/actor/director/producer, has remained a die-hard Raiders fan since the team moved back to Oakland in 1995. Ice Cube directed an ESPN 30 for 30 film “Straight Outta L.A.” on the team, and he is often on the sideline during Oakland games. He has also been known to tweet his thoughts on the Raiders (and the officiating) during games. There are a lot of celebrities who show up to games, but Ice Cube’s loyalty to the Raiders runs deep.
Best tradition: First off, this is a tradition-rich division. But I have to go with the Oakland Raiders. How can that be disputed? The Raiders are one of the most traditional teams in all of sports. Everyone equates the colors Silver and Black with the Raiders. There’s Al Davis, who has been with the franchise for 48 years. There are all the great Hall of Fame players, and there were great battles with Pittsburgh in the heyday of the 1970s. There’s the three Super Bowl titles. You think of the AFC West, and you think of the Raiders.
4dEric D. Williams
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7dEric D. Williams