AFC West: Lamar Hunt
There is no one in professional sports quite like Al Davis.
Say what you like about the mercurial, jump-suit clad czar of the Oakland Raiders, but the man is one of a kind.
He is the Oakland Raiders. AFC West history lessons must start with Davis.
Although the Raiders are one of the NFL’s most tradition-rich franchises, there was really no other choice as Oakland’s representative for the pivotal moment in team history. It all started in 1963 when a young, brash offensive mind from Brooklyn left his post as an assistant coach with the rival San Diego Chargers to become the head coach/general manager of the Raiders.
Readers agreed as Davis was a runaway winner, beating the Raiders’ first Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XI, the Raiders’ return to Oakland in 1995 and the trade of coach Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay in 2002.
It has to be Davis. After all, if it weren’t for Davis’ arrival in Oakland, none of the other finalists might have occurred. Nothing has happened involving the Raiders since 1963 that hasn’t had Davis’ fingerprints all over it. Nothing.
Rob31340 said: While it does not excuse recent failures, Al Davis is probably one of the three most important figures in NFL History. Even though he has been passed by in matters of business and football in general, no current owner or executive can lay claim to accomplishing more for the league and Oakland Raiders than Al Davis.
Added MicRaider: “Al Davis changed the whole perspective of the organization, and the AFL. This man is responsible for changing football for generations to come in many different aspects of the game, not just on the field, but the business, too .. (nothing else) come close to defining us as the Raider Nation than BIG AL.”
It’s been 48 years and it’s been good and bad, but there’s no denying that Al Davis -- less than two months shy of his 82nd birthday -- has and does define the AFC West.
Broncos: This one’s for John
While Davis has been the face of the Raiders for 48 years as an off-field leader, there hasn’t been a player in AFC West history who had more of an impact than John Elway.
One of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL, Elway was the Denver Broncos from 1983 to 1998. He led Denver to five Super Bowls and won the final two in his final two NFL seasons.
Elway’s legacy has lasted beyond his retirement. There are still likely to be more orange No. 7 jerseys in the Mile High stands than any other.
It all started in 1983 when Denver traded a package to the Baltimore Colts to get Elway after he refused to play for the Colts. This one was a no-doubter. The voting was even more lopsided than Davis’ win in Oakland. The other choices in Denver were Mike Shanahan’s arrival in 1995 as head coach, the drafting of running back Terrell Davis in 1995 and the team’s first Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XXXII.
The readers made it clear what was the flash point in Denver. It was the arrival of the Duke.
Said Arhoades28: “It has to be Elway … Elway and his 5 SBs define this franchise, for me at least.”
Added Jefffree57: “It all started with Elway. He might not have won it until Shanny and TD came. But he sure did keep that team competitive for a long while and a great leader for those SB wins.”
Chiefs: We are champions
When we first started this project, I was leaning toward making the arrival of the great Derrick Thomas in the 1989 draft as the team’s Flash Point.
He was the face of Kansas City until his tragic death in 2000 from complications following an auto accident.
However, the more I considered it, the more I thought the Chiefs’ lone Super Bowl title in Super Bowl IV is the Flash Point in team history. It was a solid winner over Thomas’ arrival, the arrival of general manager Scott Pioli in 2009 and the team’s move from Dallas in 1963.
I get it. Nothing changes a franchise’s landscape like a championship. I am a lifelong fan of the San Francisco Giants, who won their first World Series last fall. From now on, whatever happens, that first championship will always be the defining moment of the franchise in my mind.
The same thing happened in Kansas City in January, 1970. The Chiefs were a big deal back in the day and this was the team that will forever be remembered of all Lamar Hunt’s great teams.
Here’s some of what Chiefs’ fans have to say about that team:
Said Jayrodtremonki: “This one is the hardest one for me to call. Winning the Super Bowl and drafting DT are both huge moments for the franchise. Growing up with Thomas as my favorite player it's obviously a little closer to my heart, but it's still hard to put him over the crowning achievement of guys like Dawson, Lanier, Bell, Taylor, E Thomas and Hank Stram.”
Added Freyasfav: “Hank Stram’s teams were fantastic, show the old NFL what they were missing – pizzazz.”
Chargers: The Decade of LT
The San Diego Chargers are the only team in the AFC West never to have won a Super Bowl.
Perhaps no one has defined the team more than running back LaDainian Tomlinson. It’s funny, because this is a quarterback's league and the Chargers have been blessed with great quarterback play. Dan Fouts was a Hall of Famer and Philip Rivers has become an elite quarterback.
Still, LT owned the Chargers.
That’s why the Chargers' taking him with the No. 5 pick of the 2001 NFL draft was the winning Flash Point in San Diego history.
It beat out Fouts’ arrival in 1973, the 2004 draft-day trade with the New York Giants involving Rivers and Eli Manning and the Chargers’ lone Super Bowl appearance, a lopsided loss to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIX.
With a special running style and an off-field personality to match, Tomlinson became a superstar in San Diego. He turned the Chargers from a bottom feeder to a perennial division champion until his controversial departure in 2010, which left him in tears.
There are no hard feeling. Tomlinson’s legacy lives in San Diego. Jordang702 put it simply: “LT was huge for them!!!!!!”
The book will be penned by NFL historian Michael MacCambridge. The book will detail Hunt’s life and the enormous impact he had on professional football. Hunt died in 2006 at the age of 74.
“Lamar Hunt’s life is a quintessential American story,” MacCambridge said in a release sent out by the team. “I had the privilege of talking with him extensively during the writing of America's Game, and found him endlessly fascinating. I am looking forward to revisiting his life and times, talking with the people who knew him best, and learning more about the man.”
Oakland receiver Chaz Schilens had to leave practice because of soreness in his foot. He was set to play Sunday against the Jets for the first time in nine weeks. Now, his status is less clear.
San Diego linebacker Kevin Burnett is listed as doubtful to play Sunday at Kansas City with an ankle injury he suffered Monday night. He didn’t practice all week. San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie is listed as questionable with a knee injury. He practiced on a limited basis Friday. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson practiced fully Friday after missing Thursday’s practice with an illness. He is listed as probable.
Kansas City left tackle Branden Albert is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. He practiced on a limited basis all week after missing Sunday’s game at Washington.
San Diego rookie linebacker Larry English was fined $7,500 for a horse-collar tackle against Denver on Monday night. English was penalized on the play. On the bright side, English is starting to play very well for the Chargers.
The Missouri General Assembly will honor the late Lamar Hunt by naming a stretch of I-435 in his honor. The designation will be recognized in a pregame ceremony prior to Sunday’s game.
Posted by ESPN.com staff
The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure transcribes Champ Bailey's radio interview in which the Broncos DB offers up his thoughts on former Denver quarterback Jay Cutler. Said Bailey: "Well he's definitely in the top 10 as far as what he's done to this point. Now where he can be, he can be the best in the game, he has that ability."
Kansas City Chiefs
On Aug. 8, the ribbon will be cut on the new "Lamar Hunt Super Bowl gallery" at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Sporting News' Adam Teicher and Vinnie Iyer write that with Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel now in Kansas City, the Chiefs are on the rebound.
Raiders legends are tired of seeing the Oakland lose and have some advice for the team's young players.
Cam Inman remembers Steve McNair's grit in Tennessee's loss to the Raiders in the 2002 AFC Championship Game. Inman also cleans out his mailbox.
San Diego Chargers
San Diego has passed new restrictions on how elected officials are allowed to use Chargers game tickets.