The Kansas City Chiefs still were known as the Dallas Texans when the team played its first game against the Oakland Raiders.
It was Sep. 16, 1960. The game was actually played in San Francisco on a Friday.
The rivalry between the Chiefs and Raiders blossomed into one of the fiercest in professional football, with the teams representing the AFL in the first two Super Bowls. The Chiefs have the better head-to-head record, but the Raiders have won more Super Bowls. Oakland got the A’s and Rich Gannon, but Kansas City wound up with Marcus Allen and the Royals. That’s not a bad outcome.
Today, the Kansas City Chiefs play what is expected to be their last regular-season game against the Oakland Raiders. The silver and black is expected to play the 2020 season at the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, just off the strip in Las Vegas. We know we’ve heard this song before, with the Raiders once moving to Los Angeles, but this time a permanent relocation appears imminent.
Our loyalties rest firmly with the red and gold, but it’s worth noting a few things about Oakland heading into today’s game at Arrowhead Stadium.
Oakland’s population is not keeping pace with the rest of the country. It was the 27th-largest U.S. city in 1950. Today, it’s ranked 45th, just behind Omaha, Nebraska. At the same time, homelessness in Oakland is an increasingly visible problem.
Its superintendent inherited a troubled school district, following a blistering grand jury report that criticized its administration. The Oakland Unified School District is trying to close schools, a divisive issue that required one board meeting to move to a closed room because of disruptions.
An online search is likely to reveal one of those websites that purports to rank cities for safety. One ranking, from SafeWise, calls Oakland the 10th most dangerous metro area in the country.
In short, who does this kind of sound like?
To be sure, there are a lot of difference between Oakland and St. Joseph: population density, racial diversity, climate and more. But Oakland is a hard-scrabble city, one of the least swanky places in the Golden State, a place trying to reinvent itself for the 21st century. It’s not hard to see a little bit of ourselves there.
One appeal of NFL football is the success of teams in places like Green Bay, Oakland, Buffalo and Kansas City — a nod to the league’s origins in Decatur and Akron. Those origins will seem far removed when the Vegas Raiders kick off in a stadium that features a translucent roof and natural grass rolled in on 4-foot high trays. In all, the cost to taxpayers is a mere $750 million.
In our neck of the woods, rooting for the Chiefs is easy. Next year, rooting against the Raiders will get a little easier.