Inside Skinny: Chiefs Used to Own the Raiders

When Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chiefs from 1989-98, games with the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders were nothing less than a Holy War.

"In my first year (1998), I don't think I'd ever seen the kind of intensity as the week before we played them on a Sunday night," remember Chiefs DE Eric Hicks. "It was like our rivalry (at Maryland) with West Virginia, but it was much more than that. Derrick Thomas came out that night and got six sacks."

Don't expect temperatures to be running at that same fever pitch when the two struggling teams get together Sunday in Oakland for their first of two games this year.

With the 3-8 Chiefs trying to break a four-game losing streak and the 4-7 Raiders just a game better after their big-time upset in Denver last week, talk of a rivalry isn't very heated.

Put it another way: there's still some fire there, but you've got to stoke the embers to see it.

Thus, when Dick Vermeil was asked about the Raider Rivalry this week, his initial response was hardly that of a general sending troops into a Crusade.

"As I've said each year, it's hard for someone who just came into the organization four years ago to feel the same rivalry as someone who's been here as long as Carl (Peterson) and Lamar Hunt," Vermeil said. "I sense it; I'm aware of it. It's like a Cal-Stanford, UCLA-USC environment. But it's harder for someone who hasn't been in that environment as long to have the same type of feeling.

"We just need a win and it wouldn't matter who we're playing."

Hicks would like to see a little more fire among his downtrodden teammates, but he understands how things have fallen to this point.

"He comes here from the NFC, but I'm sure he's doing his best to get his intensity level up," Hicks said of Vermeil. "Not that he isn't intense all the time anyway. And he knows from Gunther (Cunningham, a former Raiders assistant) and some other guys who've been around here awhile just how intense this can be."

And for the 15 Chiefs who've never experienced the Kansas City at Oakland phenomenon, the first lesson will come long before they take the soggy Network Associates Coliseum field.

"If you make it through the parking lot without seeing 100 birds flipped your way, you were asleep on the bus!" said guard Brian Waters.

In Waters' mind, anything that can help the Chiefs escape this four-game slide is welcome. And if that involves talk of a once long-standing hatred that has now cooled to mere novelty, so be it.

"There's always a natural, intense feeling when you play the Raiders," Waters said. "There just is. It's just been inbred in us not to like them, and I know they don't like us. If we're going to throw out the things that have happened here in the last 11 weeks, the Raiders are the perfect team to do it against.

"That's a motivation we may not have had against another team."

SERIES HISTORY: - 88th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead 43-42-2 in regular-season series after winning both games last year. Chiefs broke a three-game losing streak in Oakland with a 17-10 victory last October.


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