Marquette King had to sign with the Denver Broncos, just as Marcus Allen had to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs toward the tail end of his career 25 years ago. Once the AFC West rivalry gets in a player’s blood, it’s hard for that player to move on.
Hence, King signed with the Broncos on Thursday in a move that figures to stoke the Raiders-Broncos rivalry even further. Something had to happen to fan the flames after Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree were dumped by their teams in favor of the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens.
Talib and Crabtree engaged in two memorable dust-ups the past two seasons, with Talib grabbing Crabtree’s gold chain from around his neck both times. The second time, Crabtree took the bait and fought with Talib before he was kicked out of the game and then suspended for one game.
Even the Raiders-Chiefs rivalry took a hit this offseason, as the Chiefs traded cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams. Peters enraged Raiders players and fans last season when he delivered a questionable hit on quarterback Derek Carr. Peters was penalized on the play, and Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was ejected for running on to the field and bumping an official as he attempted to hold back Peters.
Such events add another layer to the rich rivalries that go back almost six decades. People still talk about Ben Davidson’s spearing Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson in a 1970 game. Raiders fans and late-owner Al Davis despised the Broncos even more, if that was possible, when former Raiders head coach Mike Shanahan went to the Broncos and made beating the Raiders an obsession. The Chargers-Raiders rivalry has reached the point where Raiders fans make it a goal to outnumber Chargers fans at Chargers home games.
These rivalries are healthy and fun. If King signing with the Broncos adds a little spice to the Raiders-Broncos games next season, all the better. The Broncos also signed former Raiders offensive tackle Jared Veldheer this offseason, so that’s another reason for Raiders fans to hate on the Broncos.
Along the same lines, this season’s Raiders-Seahawks game is going to have added meaning because of the fact Lynch and defensive end Bruce Irvin, as well as offensive line coach Tom Cable, went from the Seahawks to the Raiders.
In the end, the divisional games are more enjoyable when players feel as if they have added incentive to beat the other team, and fans have even more reason to root against teams they despise more than paying taxes, King did everyone a favor by signing with the Broncos and praising the way they treat players right out of the gate.
If we’re lucky, Sebastian Janikowski will sign with the kicker-starved Los Angeles Chargers. He already worked out for the Chargers. Now if he can parlay that into a contract, another rivalry will become more intense.