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Cynewulf Unraed Presents the Secret History of the NFL, Part 3

III. The American Football Conference

A) Its Origins
One gray November morning, a stranger entered the offices of one Pete Rozelle to offer a dire warning: the AFL were coming. Many things confused Mr. Rozelle about this statement, not the least of them the use of a plural verb with what appeared to be a singular noun, but more so the fact that this Mr. Rozelle was not the commissioner of the NFL but rather an assayer for the firm Rozelle and Bukowski. The year was 1898, and the time traveler had come to the wrong year. He was subsequently institutionalized, but he received relatively good psychological treatment and was eventually able to adapt to life at the turn of the twentieth century, finding work as a haberdasher. Unfortunately, this meant that the NFL was totally unprepared for the arrival, from an unknown dimension, of the time-traveling, shape-shifting, two-point-converting entities styling themselves -- in this reality -- the American Football League. The brutal war that followed reverberated across the dimensions of the Multi-verse, although it was resolved peacefully in our own dimension. But it is an uneasy peace that holds between the two conferences.

B) The Teams
1)Teams of the North:
a) The Baltimore Ravens
For many years after the mysterious disappearance of the Baltimore Colts (see below), a mysterious stranger visited the wine cellar in which Johnny Unitas was entombed alive, screaming "Montresor!" Then, one dark and dreary night, a single raven flew into the city and perched on the bust of Pallas that stands in Baltimore's inner harbor. The bird croaked one single word: "Browns!" Just as quickly and mysteriously as the Colts had once disappeared, the Cleavland Browns found themselves transformed into the Baltimore Ravens. Every autumn, they emerge from the darkness of their crumbling Gothic stadium to spread fear and panic throughout the AFC.

b) The Cincinnati Bengals
In 1941, When Kentucky rejoined the CSA in Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 universe, one of the consequences was that a merry band of circus performers became stuck in Cincinnati. Unable to cross the border into Covington, they were able to cross dimensional borders, emerging in our world as the Cincinnati Bengals football team. Although they miss the happy-go-lucky days when they toured across a divided North America in which Special Order 191 was never recovered by the Union army, they have adapted to our universe quite well.

c) The Cleavland Browns
In 1996, the entire staff of the Browns disappeared into the Lake Erie Pentangle, an area so mysterious that no Wikipedia article has ever escaped its gravity well. 3 Years later, they emerged from the mists with no memory of the time that had passed. To this date, the Cleavland Browns believe that the date is actually 3 years prior. This has made scheduling somewhat difficult.

d) The Pittsburgh Steelers
After a long day of working in the steel foundries of Pittsburgh, the hard-working men of the steel industry wanted nothing more than to go home to a nice dinner and a cold beer. It was not to be: they were forced by the cruel masters to engage in sadistic death matches. Although the steel industry is in deep decline, the unfortunate steelers of Pittsburgh are still pitted against unrelenting foes in gladiatorial combat, until their broken bodies are good for nothing but to fuel the foundry fires.

2) Teams of the South
a) The Houston Texans
The Texans are well known for their colorful style of play, such as wearing 10-gallon hats while riding bucking broncos inside gigantic white Cadillac Cars tipped with Longhorn horns. Play at Reliant Stadium is frequently stopped because one of the players has struck oil or possibly because the owner has to frighten away rattlesnakes, coyotes and tornadoes with his six shooters.

b) The Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are a tragic story. During the AFC-NFC war that waged across dimensions, one of the darkest moments was a wizards duel between Alastair Crowley and Robert Irsay,in which 4 of the Seven Words of Command one must not Utter on the Radio. Reality shifted, and the Colts disappeared from the city of Baltimore forever, reappearing in Indianapolis. Initially, the team tried to race in the Indy 500, but met with little success and quickly returned to the game of Football.

c) The Jacksonville Jaguars
Andrew Jackson was famed for his daring raids, following the Native Americans into Spanish territory. These raids were repeated for years, long after Jackson died and Florida became a US state. Eventually, tired of the collateral damage caused by the raids, the state of Florida demanded the raids be replaced by football games. The fictional "city" of Jacksonville was created to house these contests.

d) The Tennessee Titans
Near the dawn of the 3rd millennium, some humble oilmen of Texas made a shocking discovery: the remains of the Titans, which their children, the Olympian gods, used to build the earth. Filled with the spirit of Saturn, these oilmen headed north to Nashville, in the hopes that the Grand Old Opry would write a fitting tribute to the glory of the Titans from before time.

3. The Teams of the East
a) The Buffalo Bills
The last native herd of American Bison east of the Mississippi was traditionally tended only by men named William, called the Buffalo's Bills. After their charges were hunted nearly to extinction, they wandered destitute, ending up in the city of Buffalo, New York, believing they would find more of the noble Land Cows. Much to their chagrin, they discovered that the city of Buffalo was actually named after a particular breed of chicken known for its flavorful wings. However, they remained in Buffalo. Now, from their hydro-electrical-powered secret laboratory behind Niagara Falls, the remaining Bills are perfecting a hot sauce that captures the grief and pain they feel over the loss of their only true friends, the bison.

b) The Miami Dolphins
It is believed by some that the survivors of Atlantis rode their dolphin steeds to the southern tip of Florida and settled in what would one day be the city of Miami. Now the few remaining Atlantians are shepherded by their king James William Buffett, practicing their ancient warrior traditions and remembering the dolphins, their noble friends.

c) The New York Jets
The New York Jets, aka The New Jersey Nets, are perhaps best known for their involvement in the "Beard of Bees" incident. In 1968, the Jets played an exhibition game against the New York Football Giants. When the Jets sent their kicker Samuel L. Bronkowitz onto the field wearing his traditional beard of bees. The coaching staff of the Giants objected, pointing to NFL rule 8.15.16, which stipulated that no field goal may be kicked by any player wearing a beard of bees. Play stopped for several hours while officials from both leagues discussed the relevant issues. Eventually, it was decided that Bronkowitz would be able to kick extra points and kickoffs, but would have to remove the bees in order to kick field goals. A professional tonsorial apiculturalist was called onto the field to assist Bronkowitz, who made the 37 yard field goal. The Jets went on to win the game, 42-23.

d) The New England Patriots
As the American Revolutionary War wound to a close, several British Loyalists saw the writing on the wall and decided to hide themselves among the populace. They fashioned themselves as "The Patriots of New England," ostensibly a charitable organization, but actually a front for British Aristocrats hoping to restore the monarchy to the American colonies. Their mission continues to this day, under the leadership of Coach William Jeeves, fourteenth Lord of Belinhampshirewick, and Thomas Wiltonshirethwick-Bradthwait IV.

4. Teams of the West
a) The Denver Broncos
High above the city of Denver battle the brave Broncos. After generations of living and playing at high altitudes on the mountain slopes, the Broncos have developed larger lung capacity and tough, gripping feet that give them a significant home-field advantage.

b) The Kansas City Chiefs
In the mid twentieth century, human resources department across the country began noticing the growing problem of an excessively large chiefs/Indians ratio. In order to correct this problem, the SHRM created the Chiefs' Reservation outside of Kansas City, MO. The football team that came out of this system was, quite naturally, somewhat topheavy in its organizational structure. They are, for example, the only team that traditionally fields 11 quarterbacks at one time.

c) The Oakland Raiders
The itinerant people known as the Riders were a scourge to Northern England starting around the 16th century. Like many other peoples with no fixed homes, such as the Roma, the Riders faced persecution and distrust everywhere they went. Unlike the Roma, however, this treatment was entirely deserved, since the Riders made their living solely through grifting. A popular grift was to come to town offering to cook a dish known as "stone soup," trick the populace into contributing their own produce to the pot, then abscond with the delicious stew. Eventually, the Riders were forced to flee. By the 1900s, they had arrived in city of Oakland, where they changed their name to the "Raiders" to avoid notice.

d) The San Diego Chargers
The dire War of Currents between the electrowizards Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla produced many wonders, not the least of them the creation of two football teams of robotic supermen. While Edison's Menlo Park Wizards would eventually fold and become part of the Montreal Alouttes, the Alternating-Current powered Chargers continue to play. Unfortunately, the notoriously secretive Tesla left few instructions for keeping the team charged, owing to their typically slow starts to the season.

Next time: The Big Game
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