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Team that used to revel in being called dirty says it’s not

Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 16: The Oakland Raiders stand in the tunnel prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 16, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

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Once upon a time, someone would accuse the Raiders of being dirty, and the Raiders would respond by saying, “You’re damn right we are. Now get back over here so we can step on your head again.”

But in today’s kinder, gentler NFL, being regarded as dirty is no longer a badge of honor.

So the Raiders, in what has become a politically correct knee-jerk formula, have denied the accusations of the Chiefs that the Silver and Black strut on the wrong side of the limits of the rules.

We play hard. We don’t play dirty,” fullback Marcel Reece said in response to the complaints of Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, via Steve Corkran of “But everybody has their right to their own opinion. Obviously divisional opponents are going to feel it a little more because it’s a rivalry. Those weeks are different. Hey, he has his right to his opinion. Like I said, if somebody says something about you, it means you’re doing something right.”

“I don’t think we’re dirty,” safety Michael Huff added. “I just think we play physical, aggressive football, like it’s supposed to be played.”

Reece eventually came around, realizing that it’s not necessarily bad to be regarded as, well, bad.

“I love it,” Reece said. “I love it. You’re going to keep hearing it forever. It’s that mystique, I guess.”

Indeed it is. The only problem is that the league’s new attitude toward safety could eventually make that mystique extinct.

I’m not saying that shouldn’t happen. I’m just saying it eventually will.