“There are no words to describe what I’m feeling right now. “
That’s what I remember thinking as I sang along with “The Star Spangled Banner” along with 79,000 of my fellow Chiefs fans at the start of Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Just then, I looked up to see 49 airplanes flying in a perfect arrowhead formation buzz the stadium, releasing pink smoke in honor of breast cancer awareness month.
“…and the home of the CHIEFS!”
Watching a game on the television does nothing to prepare you for the experience of being a part of the Sea of Red.
The morning actually started four and a half hours earlier as our cab dropped us off in front of Arrowhead Stadium. My wife and I weren’t quite sure what to expect. We had been invited to tailgate with Addict reader, John Ames and his family. All I knew was that I was supposed to find Gate G.
Let me be clear on something. I didn’t know John, other than “tweets” back and forth discussing our favorite subject, the Chiefs. We didn’t always agree (John’s a big Geno Smith supporter, and…well, I’m not) but other than that, we see eye to eye. But in a great display of what being a Chiefs fan is all about, John invited my wife and I to spend the morning with him and his family including his lovely wife and son. So, to say it once again publicly, thank you John for your hospitality! I look forward to the next one!
While tailgating, I was also able to meet another member of the Arrowhead Addict family, our very own copy editor, Natasha Sims. She and her husband made the drive up from Topeka, Kansas to take part in what was to be a historic day in Chiefs history.
As I looked out at the thousands of Chiefs (and a few dozen Raiders) fans enjoying the crisp morning, partaking in bratwurst, hamburgers and barbeque, it struck me that this was the best part of life. Chiefs fans were high fiving each other, excited about the 5-0 start of their football – our football team. The Raiders were confident, as they had beat the Chiefs in the last six visits to Arrowhead. Why would today be any different?
As Anabel (that’s my wife) and I made our way to our seats in section 111 just off-center of the east end zone goal post, the excitement began to build inside of me. This was my Mecca. This was my journey. Twenty years as a Chiefs fan (which is short, compared to how long some of you have been following this team) had led to this. This day, with these screaming fans.
As the rows around us filled in, I was relieved to see I didn’t have any visiting fans dressed in silver and black immediately next to me. However, there were six of them two rows in front of us, who I’ll talk about in a minute.
When the players took the field, it was like nothing I had seen since I went to a WWE event years ago. During the Arrowhead Stadium tour the day before (which I recommend, by the way – excellent experience) the guide told us that there was a new player entrance this year for the Chiefs. I wasn’t expecting the flames and the fireworks, though. It was incredible. And from where we were sitting, I could feel the heat from the pyro.
As the game began, it was less than pretty. Alex Smith getting sacked on the first snap disgusted the crowd around me. There was a lot of grumbling about how he was playing. Some of that grumbling was directed at me as I wearing his jersey, the only one in our row.
Everyone in the stands was quite aware of the “Guinness Book of World Record” attempt that was happening that day. The Chiefs fans were attempting to bring the title of “World’s Loudest Stadium” (Open Air) back to its rightful place in Kansas City. There was a representative from Guinness on the field, a British guy named Phillip Robertson, who they introduced during the pregame festivities. He had a sound meter that would measure the decibel level in the stadium. As the first half wore on, there was several times I thought we would surely break the record. It seemed to me that every third down attempt the Raiders made Arrowhead grew louder and louder and shook more and more. Finally, the jumbotron revealed that the loudest “roar” heard thus far was 135.2 decibels which was 1.4 dB short of the record. At that point, I thought it would be nearly impossible.
As the first half drew to a close, I was starting to feel as if I’d picked the wrong game to attend. The Chiefs offense wasn’t moving the ball well, and it appeared that the Raiders would enter half time with a 7-0 lead. Then, the Chiefs did what the Chiefs do and marched 55 yards in a minute to score a touchdown. The drive included some heroic moments by both quarterback Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe where Smith rolled out of the pocket and hit a diving Bowe for a 17 yard gain to keep the drive moving. As the Chiefs were marching toward my end zone, I had a perfect view of the play. It was capped off by a Charles touchdown, keeping the score even as the teams entered half time.
Here, I’ll say it’s quite different watching the game live versus at home on my 70 inches of viewing pleasure. Perhaps the weirdest thing was the “t.v. timeouts” where the players just stood around, waiting for the game to start again. It took a couple of these for me to realize what exactly was going on. Taking the halftime opportunity to grab a couple more beverages, I witnessed a shouting match in the men’s room that nearly turned into a fist fight and paid $9 for a beer. I made it back into my seat just minutes after the second half kickoff.
As the second half wore on, I looked around the stadium and really saw for the first time how full it was. Though I never heard an official attendance announcement, it had to be close to being sold out. Every seat was full. And despite the fact that the game had turned defensive in nature and wasn’t a score-fest, the Chiefs fans in attendance were as loud as I expected them to be. Midway through the third quarter, the lid started to come off the stadium. In taking a page from Eric Berry’s playbook, as Pryor attempted a pass to receiver Rod Streater, safety Quintin Demps made his third interception in as many games. The heat of the moment overtook me and I began screaming “give me the ball Pryor! Give me that ball Pryor!” I was shouting to the aforementioned Raiders fans two rows in front of me. They wouldn’t turn around. That turnover turned into another Charles touchdown 23 rows in front of me.
From that point on, the noise in the stadium didn’t stop. I couldn’t talk to my wife. I couldn’t talk to the other fans next to me. We just screamed, and high fived and fist bumped. The noise quite obviously got to the Raiders as they started to unravel being called for “false start” and “delay of game” penalties, sometimes multiple times in one down.
The Chiefs defense was feeling the crowd as well. Several times as I looked down on the field, corner backs Shaun Smith and Dunta Robinson were waving their arms in a “louder, louder” motion, riling up the rabid crowd even more than we already were. They knew that Arrowhead was back and they knew just as much as what they were doing on the field to stop the Raiders offense, we, the fans – the Addicts – in the stands were doing just as much. Everyone had to do their part to beat the bitter rival silver and black. We were holding up on our end, and so were they.
It was no more evident than the drive that began at the Oakland 20 yard line with 10:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Raiders drove to mid field and then collapsed under the noise and electricity generated by the raucous crowd. Through sacks, penalties and poor play, that drive ended at the Oakland 12 on a fourth down and 48 yards to go punt. 4th and 48. The Raiders had to go half the length of the field to get a first down. In thirty years of watching
football, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. There was a holding penalty and a delay of game penalty. There were two sacks, one by Eric Berry and one by Tamba Hali. It was the best defensive series of football I think I’ve ever seen. The crowd could barely contain itself.
As the game wound down, it was clear that the Chiefs defense would not allow the Raiders to score another point in the game. The score was 17-7, Chiefs after a Ryan Succop field goal and it looked like it was all but over. Strangely, as I looked around, no one was moving. Perhaps a few of the Raiders fans in attendance had decided their streak had come to an end and were moving toward the exits of One Arrowhead Drive, but the Sea of Red was in full force.
With just under two minutes left in the ball game, Terrelle Pryor attempted a short pass for tight end Mychal Rivera. Chiefs’ defensive back Hussain Abdullah expertly stepped in front of the pass and took it 44 yards for the touchdown. The place was primed to explode. After the ensuing kickoff, the Raiders started another futile drive inside their own 20 yard line. With :48 left on the clock, Derrick Johnson slammed into Pryor for his second sack of the day.
That did it.
The place went berserk and into the history books.
It was the exclamation point on an already perfect defensive showing. It was also the final boost the Chiefs fans in attendance needed to blow the top off the world record. The digital needle on the decibel meter held by Mr. Robertson, the representative from the Guinness Book of World Records, went all the way to the right and registered 137.5 dB, breaking the record currently held by CenturyLink field in Seattle, Washington by 1.1 dB.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock and the crowd chanted “six and oh, six and oh”, I sat down in my seat – for the first time that day – and took it what I had experienced. From the extravaganza that is tailgating at Arrowhead, to the game I had just witnessed, I was in awe of the entire day.
My bio used to say “though I have never stepped foot inside Arrowhead Stadium, you won’t find a bigger Chiefs fan around.”
Those days are no more. Now Addicts, I’m one of you.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.