Updated: September 23, 2009 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD • Denver Broncos fans never had to worry about where Mike Shanahan’s heart or head was during Raiders week.
He hated that franchise and owner Al Davis, and made it a personal mission to beat them.
New coach Josh McDaniels might need some time for genuine hatred to grow, but he understands the importance of the rivalry in this area.
“Certainly there’s been a lot of great games over the years, and I’ve watched them from afar,” said McDaniels, who will get his first taste of the rivalry Sunday at Oakland. “It’ll be great to be a part of that.”
McDaniels has tried hard to indoctrinate himself into Broncos’ culture. Just last week, when talking about rooting for the Cleveland Browns while growing up in Ohio, he quickly said with a smile that Bronco Rich Karlis’ controversial game-winning field goal was unquestionably good in the famous 1986 AFC Championship Game at Cleveland.
But there’s one sure way to appeal to a Broncos fan, and that’s by beating Oakland. Shanahan was 21-7 against the Raiders.
“It means a lot to us,” McDaniels said. “They’re our, if you want to call them, archrival.”
Losing Shanahan from the rivalry hasn’t affected the Raiders’ feelings about the rivalry.
“To me, it’s the same,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said. “It’s the Denver Broncos.”
Tight end Daniel Graham grew up in Colorado, grew up hating the Raiders and as he said, “I still hate the Raiders.” The Broncos have plenty of new players, but Graham said the rivalry remains.
“I think they know that and they understand,” Graham said. “There’s no love lost between the teams.”
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