He let down his guard, just for a moment, and that lapse
revealed more about the bitterness of this rivalry than would a
thousand press conferences or exclusive interviews. As a veteran
football coach, Marty Schottenheimer is practiced in the art of
masking his emotions and concealing his enmity, but this was an
exceptional circumstance. The team Schottenheimer coaches, the
Kansas City Chiefs, had just stolen another game from the team
Schottenheimer despises, the Oakland Raiders, and the victors
had done it by following his time-honored formula: Hit back,
keep it close, minimize mistakes and wait for the Raiders to
self-destruct. Celebration was called for, but Schottenheimer's
performance revealed something more. There was unmitigated glee
and evidence of the kind of deep satisfaction that comes when
you have vanquished an enemy while defending the honor of those
he has wronged.
As Schottenheimer burst into the throng of red-jerseyed revelers
who had gathered in the end zone over the motionless body of
Chief cornerback James Hasty, he began letting off steam. First
Schottenheimer fought his way to Hasty, who had raced 64 yards
after an interception to give Kansas City a 23-17 overtime
victory and now lay flat on his back, and planted kisses on the
winded player's forehead. Then Schottenheimer grabbed defensive
end Neil Smith and screamed, "I told you they'd f---- fold!"
For the 11th time in the Chiefs' last 12 meetings with the
Raiders, Schottenheimer's theory had been largely validated.
The victory in front of 78,696 fans at Arrowhead Stadium on
Sunday moved the Chiefs (3-0) ahead of the Raiders (2-1) and
into sole possession of the AFC West lead, and Schottenheimer
shared the glory with those who craved it most. In the jubilant
K.C. locker room he presented game balls to two of his
assistants, offensive line coach Art Shell and defensive
coordinator Gunther Cunningham, and gave a hug to running back
Marcus Allen. What Shell, Cunningham and Allen share is a harsh
history with their former boss, Oakland owner Al Davis, who
drove them away. It would be convenient to say Schottenheimer
wanted to stick it to Davis for these three employees, but he
also had his own, unspoken motivation. "Someday, when I'm done
coaching, I'll explain why I feel the way I do about the
Raiders," Schottenheimer said.
He's hardly the sole Raider-hater in Kansas City. Chief
president and general manager Carl Peterson, who stopped
speaking to Davis four years ago, expresses disdain for him.
Even Kansas City players who don't know Davis have heard enough
about how meddlesome he is with coaches and players to stoke
their emotional fires. As Smith said Saturday, "The way they
[Shell and Allen] were mistreated, there's something going on
over there that's not right."
Emotion and resolve cannot usually carry a football team to
victory, especially one that is facing a more talented opponent.
Yet the Chiefs beat a Raider team that, under first-year coach
Mike White, looks far more imposing than its recent
predecessors. Oakland dominated for three quarters and held a
17-7 lead before the Kansas City offense woke up. And after
watching Chief kicker Lin Elliott gag on a 24-yard field goal
attempt that could have won the game in regulation, the Raiders
moved into field goal range four minutes into overtime.
Then the Raiders made two crucial mistakes. On first-and-10 from
the K.C. 28, Raider tight end Kerry Cash--not to be confused with
his identical twin, Chief tight end Keith Cash--was called for
holding. The Raiders set an NFL record with 156 penalties last
season, and White, who got the coach's job after Shell was fired
last February, has made a point of reducing the violations. In
its first two games, victories over the San Diego Chargers and
the Washington Redskins, Oakland was flagged just eight times,
an NFL low. But the Raiders reverted to historical form on
Sunday-Cash's penalty was Oakland's 11th of the game, and it led
to Kansas City's winning points on the next play.
The Chiefs got help from the officials on Hasty's return too.
The interception came as Raider quarterback Jeff Hostetler threw
a short pass over the middle toward receiver Tim Brown, who was
interfered with by a most unanticipated defender, umpire Jeff
Rice. With Brown tangled up in black-and-white, Hasty caught the
ball and lived up to his name, displaying the breakneck speed
that had instigated a tug-of-war between these two teams for his
services last spring. The Raiders wanted to sign Hasty, a former
New York Jet, after he visited their facility, but his next stop
was Kansas City, and, says Peterson, "we simply wouldn't let him
leave until a deal was done. Contrary to what one person may
believe, not everyone wants to be a Raider."
Hasty's decision to join the Chiefs was yet another sidelight to
a rivalry that makes the one between AT&T and MCI look like
good-natured fun. Brown's reaction to Hasty's TD was
particularly heated. Brown attributed Hasty's good fortune to
Kansas City's 12th man--and he wasn't talking about the crowd.
"Eleven-on-11 and we win that game; 11-on-12 is unfair," Brown
said, alluding to umpire Rice's ill-timed dash toward the line
of scrimmage that caused him to collide with Brown.
Moments later, a 51-year-old executive nearly set the land-speed
record: Peterson left his luxury box and sprinted down six
flights of stairs in half a minute. He would spend the next
several hours celebrating Kansas City's second consecutive
overtime victory, and, no, he did not stop to shake Davis's
hand. Later, sipping chardonnay with friends in his office,
Peterson explained why, after entering the morguelike Raider
locker room to congratulate White, he walked past Davis without
so much as a nod: "Four years ago we beat them here in a
hard-fought game, and Al and I were on the elevator. I put out
my hand and said, 'Listen, it was a great game between two
teams, it's too bad somebody had to lose.' He just glared back
and said, 'Not now, Carl. Not now.' Since then, I don't even try."
Scores of reporters shared a similar experience in the days
preceding this game. The Raiders' commitment to reticence was
evident before a press conference last Wednesday when executive
assistant Al LoCasale informed beat reporters that White would
not be taking questions. When a reporter asked for an
explanation, LoCasale shot back, "That's a question." White also
implemented the no-question policy during his conference call
with Kansas City reporters, who quickly concluded that Oakland
was playing a tape of White's statements. The Raiders denied
this, but the Chiefs got the message loud and clear: Be it live
or Memorex, White was uptight. "The success we've had against
the Raiders was because they always had that doubt in their
mind," Smith said Saturday. "And evidently something's on their
mind this time, too, because they're tight."
At the heart of Kansas City's optimism was a belief in
Schottenheimer's formula for success against the Raiders, one
that has netted him 12 victories in 14 games against them since
he became the Chief coach in 1989. To hear one former and two
present Chiefs tell it, Schottenheimer's teams thrive because of
mental and physical toughness. "The Raiders think they're going
to out-physical most teams, and with Kansas City they can't get
away with that," says NBC analyst Joe Montana, who prepared for
his broadcasting career by quarterbacking the Chiefs in '93 and
'94. "Kansas City is way more disciplined, and the Chiefs don't
get pushed around."
Allen, who jumped from the Raiders to K.C. after the '92 season,
agrees. "On paper, as usual, they look like the more talented
team," he says. "But Marty has a very good idea of how to beat
them; you have to take it to them physically, hit 'em in the
mustaches." And then, in Smith's words, "there always comes a
point in the second half where they just lay down."
That didn't happen this time, but it didn't matter, because the
Chiefs adhered to the most essential component of
Schottenheimer's strategy: winning the turnover battle. Since
1990 the Chiefs have a takeaway-giveaway ratio of plus-81. The
next-best team over that period, the Pittsburgh Steelers, are a
The trend has continued because Montana's successor, Steve Bono,
protects the football like Michelle Pfeiffer protects her
privacy. In 98 passing attempts this season Bono has been
intercepted once. He was brilliant in Kansas City's opening-game
victory over the Seattle Seahawks and shook off poor starts to
lead comeback triumphs over the New York Giants and the Raiders
the last two weeks. Does his late-game poise remind Montana of
anyone? "Reminds me of Bono," Montana said. He then rated his
buddy, a 10-year backup until this season, one of the league's
top 10 quarterbacks, "and maybe in the top five, behind the big
names like John Elway but ahead of people like Jeff George."
Bono seized the Chiefs' first opportunity, connecting with Lake
Dawson on a four-yard touchdown pass after former K.C. running
back Harvey Williams fumbled on Oakland's opening drive. But
Williams (20 carries, 74 yards) ran for a pair of second-quarter
touchdowns while the K.C. offense stalled. The Chiefs trailed
17-7 before Bono got untracked on the first play of the fourth
quarter, scrambling away from Pat Swilling and hitting Webster
Slaughter 28 yards downfield. That set up a 19-yard TD pass to
Willie Davis. Elliott tied the game with a 35-yard field goal,
and a Dan Saleaumua interception (off Smith's deflection) gave
K.C. a chance to win on Elliott's chip shot, but he shanked it.
In overtime, Allen, who earlier became the fifth NFL player to
exceed 15,000 all-purpose yards, fumbled at the Oakland 38 after
a 20-yard catch and gave the Raiders their opening. The visitors
marched upfield and looked like winners until Hasty intervened,
allowing the ex-Raiders to release their pent-up emotion.
Cunningham, upstairs in the coaches box, stood on a table and
screamed as Hasty raced down the left sideline. Shell was more
restrained, but don't let his demeanor fool you. Shell was so
committed to winning this game that he spent time in defensive
meetings, discussing the tendencies of his former players.
"Yeah, he wanted it badly," said Smith.
Other than offering a brief, expletive-laced Davis imitation
after the game, Allen also played it low-key. "I usually go home
and make a lot of noise for the neighbors," he said. One of them
is Peterson, who lives in the same K.C. condominium complex.
"He's three floors up," said Allen, "and I usually don't scream
The voice that carries the most weight in Kansas City is
Schottenheimer's. On Saturday he canceled a walk-through of the
next day's game plan, instead treating his players to an
impassioned pep talk that revealed his distaste for the Raiders
and their owner. Said Hasty, "We found out this week how much
Coach Schottenheimer wants to beat them."
Then, as usual, the Chiefs fastened their chin straps and