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Sacco Sez: Same faces, new places for the AFC West

When the National Football League owners voted 31-1 earlier this week to allow the Oakland Raiders to move to Las Vegas, that meant change was headed to the AFC West.

The AFC West may be the only division in pro football that has the same four franchises in 2017 as it had in 1960, but the locations have certainly shuffled.

The Los Angeles Chargers were first, moving to San Diego following their inaugural 1960 season. They're headed back to Los Angeles for the 2017 season, during which they'll play at the StubHub Center.

The Dallas Texans, owned by league founder and Dallas native Lamar Hunt, moved to Kansas City following their 1962 AFL championship season in Texas. The team would change its name to the Chiefs once in Kansas City.

The Raiders were the team that might never have been, save for two factors: the Minneapolis franchise bowing out of the AFL; and Chargers owner Barron Hilton saying that he too would leave if he did not have a West Coast rival. So the AFL founding fathers solved both issues by giving a last-minute team to Oakland. That team was initially known as the Señors, but the ownership quickly changed course and named the team the Raiders.

During their first two years in the league, the Raiders didn't have a home stadium. They played every game on the road during the 1960 and 1961 seasons and had home games at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park, respectively. Then the city of Oakland built them their first stadium — one that that seated about 22,000. That stadium, Frank Youell Field, was their home until the now infamous Oakland Coliseum was built.

And even then, the motivation for the construction of the Coliseum was only half about football; Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley wanted to move his team to Oakland, but needed a ballpark in which to play. To this day the Coliseum is the last of the active, continuous use NFL and Major League Baseball stadiums.

They later played yet another season in which they didn't host a single game in Oakland.

In 1982 they had announced their move to Los Angeles but did not yet have a practice facility in LA.  So the Los Angeles Raiders still practiced at their Oakland headquarters and then took a plane flight every single week to a road game, either in the opponent's city or to Los Angeles.

They won the Super Bowl that year, proof once again that anything can be done. But the Broncos are the only Super Bowl champions from the AFC West that have never moved.

The Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles, back to Oakland from Los Angeles and now to Las Vegas. The Broncos, however, have enjoyed stability unlike the other teams in the division.

Team Owner Pat Bowlen sometimes said in his early years, just before his powerhouse legacy of success began, that "People around the country just know us as that team that wears orange and plays somewhere in the mountains!"

That was true once, but largely due to the great legacy continued by Mr. Bowlen and his entire organization, the Broncos still wear orange and still play real near the mountains.

His franchise is the last one standing in its original AFC Western Division home. 

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