KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With the Chiefs and Raiders winning just one AFC West championship between them over the past eight seasons, the Kansas City-Oakland rivalry has seen better times.
But Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali added some spice Wednesday to the 107th meeting between the teams Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
Hali called the Raiders a “dirty” team.
“It’s a tradition,” Hali said. “The Raiders, they come in, they cheapshot, they hit you. I’m not saying (any) names. It is what it is. We’ve got to be ready to play and keep our composure, stayed poised and be able to get this win.”
Hali is hardly the first player to aim those charges at the Raiders. They’ve had a reputation as cheapshot artists for decades.
But in this case, Hali is going with some outdated information. The Raiders last fall lost long-time franchise icon Al Davis, who seemed to encourage Oakland’s thug mentality. Davis died last October.
Since then, Oakland hired a new general manager, Reggie McKenzie, and head coach, Dennis Allen. Both are from outside the organization and they’re having a huge impact on how the Raiders operate.
The Raiders are usually among the league leaders in penalties, but not this year.
Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour responded by saying he didn’t agree with Hali.
“Anytime you play the game, you should play with a chip on your shoulder,” Seymour said. “You should play with an attitude.
“But in terms of being dirty, going out to hurt guys, I don’t think I play that way or any of my teammates (play that way). I don’t stand for it. But we do play tough and physical. I do believe that’s the way the game is supposed to be played. I respect guys that play the same way.”
Previous Raiders coaches have tried to clean up the team’s chippy play without success. But Seymour indicated this year’s efforts are taking hold.
“I’m not sure where we rank in terms of penalties this year, but if there is anything you want to eliminate, it’s pre-snap penalties, things that get you beat in terms of being a good football team,” Seymour said. “I think we should eliminate that. I thought we tried to do that this year. Each game is different. We go out there and control the things we can control. We can’t control what the refs call, only to some degree. We go out there and play hard and tough.”
Games between the Chiefs and Raiders the past few seasons have generally been clean. They’ve usually been intense and hard-fought but free of obvious cheap shots.
That’s not Hali’s recollection.
“The core guys that have been here, they understand what we’ve got going on Sunday,” he said. “(The Raiders) are coming in and they’re a good team and a fast team and they play dirty. We’ve got to come out swinging.
“We’ve got to be ready for that. You can let these guys come in and if they do it and you let them do it, they’re going to enjoy themselves doing it and they’ll run over you. So you have to be prepared for that and stay with the game plan.”