As the Centennial State evolves and grows, many things once deemed “unacceptable” are now, well, “acceptable.”

This isn’t a column about the pros and cons of legalized marijuana or the fact you can lawfully and comfortably, from the comfort of your phone, bet on darn near anything that keeps a score. These are things you can do these days. It’s okay, in case you haven’t heard.

In Colorado, you still cannot: Mutilate a rock inside of a state park, rip tags off of mattresses or ride your horse (or someone else’s) while intoxicated. You may or may not receive a fine, a slap on the wrist or a night in the slammer for such infractions, but, these are laws; you can look them up.

You know what you really can’t do?

Lose to the Raiders.

Now that can be a steep penalty.

Rob Walton, Greg Penner, Carrie Walton-Penner, Mellody Hobson and Lewis Hamilton – welcome to Colorado. Everybody clear on that? Damani Leach, George Paton – you guys listening, too?

If Condoleezza Rice, a graduate of St. Mary’s Academy in Cherry Hills and the University of Denver, has a single, most-vital role within the “Walton-Penner Group” – the newly-formed, ultra-wealthy conglomerate that now owns the Denver Broncos – it’s to convey this simple message to her cohorts.

You. Can. Not. Lose. To. The Raiders.

We’ve learned to embrace THC, bet a buck or two here and there on minor league international table tennis – we might even be willing to turn a blind eye toward our drunk, equestrian enthusiast neighbor – but if you lose to the Raiders too often or too badly, the penalty is steep. It might cost a local leadfoot $350 for going 47 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour speed trap. Poor parallel parkers must cough up $75 – only $60 (plus fees) if you’re willing to pay online within a week – for not being close enough to the curb. But for a football coach who embarrasses Broncos Country, the fine is much, much steeper.

If you’re Nathaniel Hackett, the current head coach of the Denver Broncos, it might look something like four-million big ones per year (depending on if Greg Penner reads a coach’s contract like Al Davis might) plus the cost of a Greyhound bus ticket back to Wisconsin (assuming the Cheeseheads would welcome him back).

Look no further than the most recent history.

“[Vic Fangio] got fired because of the Raiders. I’ve been told that within their organization,” JT The Brick, host of the “Raider Nation Show” said when Fangio got the axe. “Vic Fangio got fired because he couldn’t beat the Raiders. Not that he couldn’t beat the Chargers. No. They can’t handle losing to the Raiders. To their credit, they hate the Raiders. They judge their success by the Raiders, historically. And after losing the last four they fired Fangio.”

The Brick isn’t wrong. Fangio only the beat the Raiders once in his three years as the Broncos grouchy ol’ head coach. You can assume that an embarrassing loss to the Raiders on Christmas Eve 2018 had a similar effect on Fangio’s predecessor, Vance Joseph, who only lasted two seasons in Denver.

Perhaps most famously, Josh McDaniels – who will be in town this weekend as the Raiders head coach in case anyone from the Walton-Penner Group would like to ask him about it – was canned following one of the Broncos most pathetic losses to the Raiders. As Tim Lynch of so eloquently wrote: “10/24/2010. Mark this date as a day of infamy in Broncos history. This is what a team that has quit on its head coach looks like. After the first quarter, the (Broncos) were down 24-0 (to the Raiders). By halftime it was 38-7. After three an astonishing 59-14. Thankfully, the Raiders turtled up and stopped the scoring onslaught from there or records could have been made.”

So long, Lil’ McHoodie.

Even Broncos legends Wade Phillips and Mike Shanahan were, at least in part, shown the door because of a disconcerting loss to the Raiders. Specifically, losing at Mile High (Stadium “proper” or “Such n Such Sponsor @”…) has never gone over well.

It’s no secret – unless you’ve spent most of the fall trekking from one 14er to another without so much as a smart phone – that Hackett, who gets his second shot at the hated Raiders at home on Sunday – is already on the hotseat. To put it mildly, Hackett has been nothing short of a complete disaster in his first-ever opportunity as an NFL head coach. His offenses have been fire-able. His offense is offensive, his penalties worthy of penalty.

A loss to the Raiders at home?

Get outta town, man. It’s not even personal. It’s just the way it is out here where Broncos Football is one standard that we’ve somehow managed to uphold amidst an influx of Californians who’d just as soon be skiing, smoking, simpering or Subaru-ing at 2:05 p.m. on Sunday. The Club Level might not notice or care, but if you lose to the Raiders, Nathaniel, don’t try high-fiving anyone in the South Stands on your way out.

Besides, the 2-7 Raiders have been even worse than the Broncos this season. They’re so bad, it’s made their quarterback cry.

Hackett already lost to that team once and has appeared incompetent enough overall to not get an invitation back in 2023. If he loses to the Raiders in front of an already angry home crowd, bringing the Broncos and their unwatchable offense to 3-7 on the season, he shouldn’t be invited to clean up his own office on Monday. The Raiders, like the Red Wings, suck. ‘Round here, that’ ain’t opinion; it’s fact.

Too harsh?

Not really. Not here. Consider Sunday a single-elimination job interview for the bumbling, stumbling head coach. Lose to the Raiders; win a pink slip.

You tell ‘em, Condi. You tell ‘em.