NFL Nation: Napoleon Kaufman

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- A Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers might have been just too much for the Oakland Raiders and their fans to bear.

A title game between one of the Raiders’ most bitter rivals from the Mile High City and their cross-bay brethren? Imagine the smack flying their way with such a matchup. Or did you miss former Raiders running back Napoleon Kaufman’s tweet early Sunday?


Someone had to win the AFC Championship Game, though, and when the Broncos held off the Patriots 26-16, the Raiders’ virulent division opponent’s ticket was punched for New Jersey, which left the NFC title up for grabs.

Just like Colin Kaepernick’s floater to Michael Crabtree that Richard Sherman knocked into the waiting arms of Malcolm Smith for an interception with 22 seconds to play to clinch the 23-17 victory for the Seahawks and give Kaufman, who played his college ball at Washington, a sigh of relief.

And yet, as noted in this space last week, the Seahawks used to live in the same division as the Raiders, too. From 1977 through 2001 they were AFC West roomies, if not necessarily homies, and they even met in the 1983 AFC title game for the right to play in Super Bowl XVIII, when the Raiders called Los Angeles home and the Seahawks had more aesthetically pleasing uniforms.

The Raiders won that game and the Super Bowl -- and have not hoisted a Vince Lombardi Trophy since.

Plus, there’s the Tom Flores connection. Flores, who won two Super Bowls as the Raiders' coach, was burning out and hoped to take a year off after the 1987 season. But Al Davis hired Mike Shanahan instead, and Flores went up north to become the Seahawks’ president/general manager in 1989 and added coach to his title in 1992. He lasted three years.

Flores, after going a combined 91-56 with the Raiders from 1979 to 1987, including the playoffs, was just 14-34 coaching the Seahawks, with whom his draft picks included future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and quarterbacks Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer.

Alas, Oakland knows Denver and Seattle well. In fact, the Raiders’ all-time winning percentages against the Broncos (.561, 59-46-2) and Seahawks (.549, 23-23-0) rank 10th and 12th, respectively, against all opponents.

Then there’s this: With the Broncos set to represent the conference, the Raiders, who played in Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003, will no longer be the most recent AFC West team to play on Super Sunday.

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