With news breaking last week that the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers were working together to build a stadium in Carson, California, Raiders fans were split. Those from Southern California were ecstatic about the possibility of their favorite team returning, while fans in Northern California were heartbroken at the prospect of losing the Raiders once again. But there are some downsides surrounding the potential move upon which all Raiders fans can agree.
Sharing a stadium with a rival
One of the original AFC West teams, the Chargers have won 15 division crowns — more than any team besides the Raiders (16). Fans of the Raiders aren’t too keen on simply sharing a stadium in general. When there was talk of the team potentially sharing a stadium with the San Francisco 49ers, people went nuts and they aren’t even a real rival since they play in different conferences. Sharing a stadium with a team you have competed with since your team first came into existence in 1960 is not something that makes longtime Raiders fans all that comfortable.
Where’s the AFL loyalty?
This proposed two-team move would likely mean one of the two teams would switch conferences and play in the NFC West, which would put an end to the rivalry. That itself is a problem, since most fans don’t want to see the Raiders/Chargers rivalry end regardless of the reason. A great part of football for a team like the Raiders is the richness of the history within the AFC West. All four teams have been a part of the division ever since it was first created in 1960 (the Kansas City Chiefs were still the Dallas Texans and the Chargers were located in Los Angeles at that time). Jettisoning any of the original four would mean losing a 50-plus-year-old rivalry.
But possibly the worst part of all this is that the Raiders would likely be losing all of their rivalries. Since there have already been reports that Mark Davis is willing to move to the NFC in order to get a stadium done, many expect that it would be the Raiders switching conferences. This would mean no more twice-yearly meetings with the Chargers, Broncos and Chiefs, and very few opportunities for in-season meetings with other AFC rivals like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
When the Oakland Raiders franchise was first created, it was a part of the American Football League. Then, under the guidance of former Raiders owner Al Davis — who was then the commissioner of the AFL — the league merged with the National Football League and became what is now the American Football Conference, or the AFC. As of right now, every AFL franchise still resides in the AFC.
The Raiders have made their mark on the AFC, and moving to the NFC wouldn’t change that. However, it means more for a team who was an original member of the AFL to move to the NFC than say, the Seattle Seahawks (who spent their first season in the NFC West, switched conferences with Tampa Bay in 1977 and stayed in the AFC West for 25 years, then moved back to the NFC West in 2002). As hard as it would be for an Oakland native like myself to see the team move to Los Angeles, it would be even more troubling to see them share a stadium with the Chargers and leave the AFC West.