At least four different leagues aspiring to parity with the NFL have called themselves the American Football League. The first, in 1926, was a vehicle for Red Grange and his manager to make more dough. The league died after one season and Grange went back to the NFL. The second one started in 1936 and held on for two seasons before running out of money. The third, in 1940, also lasted two seasons and might have stuck in out for more before the war disrupted operations.
The last one, of course, started in 1960 and, after a slow start during which both the Titans and the Raiders nearly went under, eventually thrived, spurring the NFL to agree to a merger in 1966. Each of the original eight teams survived to the end, as did the two expansion franchises, and these teams now comprise some of the strongest and most-storied teams in pro football history.
Begun in 1959 as the brainchild of two Texas oil men, Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams, the league began play in 1960 with teams in Boston, Buffalo, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Oakland. The early days included weak attendance and the shifting of two teams to new, non-NFL cities, but the accumulated wealth of some of the owners and a pair of national television contracts, first with ABC, then with NBC, kept the loop afloat during the hard times. The level of play, at first, was inferior that in the NFL, but the league began to offer more competitive contracts and the signing of several big names during the middle part of the decade marked a shift toward equality. By the end of the 1960s, with AFL teams having now accumulated years of experience running their teams and with a common player draft begun in 1967, the new league proved it belong with convincing wins in the final two interleague Super Bowls. With the conclusion of the merger process in 1970, the AFL was gone, but not forgotten, with a legacy that remains powerful to this day.
The Raiders have an all-time regular season record of 79-55-5 when playing in the American Football League
The Raiders have an all-time playoff record of 3-3-0 when playing in the American Football League