The fans that pack the Seahawks’ stadium are the loudest in the world. That’s not hyperbole, either. The crowd’s noise registered 136.6 decibels during the second half of Seattle’s victory over San Francisco last Sunday night. According to the team’s official website, that broke the previous Guinness World Record of 131.7 decibels, which was set during a soccer match in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2011.
The Jaguars normally have music playing while they practice, but this week they’re turning it up at the San Jose State University practice field to try and prepare for what will be the most hostile environment they’ll likely face all season.
"It’s just different," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "I think every team has crowd noise, depending on how the game goes will depend on how loud they get, if it’s a good game or if you’re winning or losing. Up there, it is a little bit different. The way the stadium is built, it’s a little noisier."
Jaguars coach Gus Bradley is intimately familiar with the problem, only this time he’s on the other side. He was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator the last four seasons and got the advantage of the crowd noise. Now he’s got to figure out a way to handle it.
"They’re a good crowd. They know when to yell and when to be quiet," Bradley said. "It is something that we have to address and make our players aware of especially last week with some of the false starts that we had in Oakland. It’s going to be an even more difficult deal for us this week."
The record crowd of 68,338 actually set the record twice. Former Seahawks defensive lineman Joe Tafoya, who leads a group of fans called Volume 12, was recording the crowd on a decibel meter. It hit 131.9 in the first half and then 136.6 late in the third quarter. According to airportnoiselow.org , that’s equivalent to the noise level found on an aircraft carrier deck.
The site also says a jet taking off 100 meters away would register 130 decibels. A sound at 150 decibels -- a jet taking off 25 meters away -- would result in instant eardrum rupture.
It’s not going to be that bad for the Jaguars’ offensive players, but it could be close.
"You do the best you can to prepare for it and you do have to try to simulate that element in practice but they’ve got a great crowd," guard Uche Nwaneri said. “I think the biggest way to solve that problem is stay on the field and score points, keep them out of the game so that they don’t have such a big effect on our ability to communicate. It can be a factor if you let it, but we’ve got things set up with our game plan that will handle that noise if we’ve got to deal with it.
"The biggest key is being able to understand the concept of the plays and being able to communicate even if it’s not so much verbally with your teammates on the field. You sometimes have to do a little bit of lip reading but this is part of the NFL. You have to deal with hostile crowds in away games."
Defensive players love it when they see the crowd noise bothering an offense. And it does have an effect, especially in Seattle. According to the team’s official website, Seahawks opponents average 2.36 false start penalties per game at CenturyLink Field, and the New York Giants committed 11 in an overtime loss 2005.
But Jaguars cornerback Alan Ball isn’t worried about how the offense will handle it on Sunday.
"When that momentum gets going and they start feeling themselves sand the crowd is there as the 12th man, I definitely see that is it can be an advantage if you use it right," he said. "But if you’ve got a team that’s not worried about it -- like I’m sure our offense will be not worried about the noise -- go in and just execute like they’re supposed to, it has no effect."
Even though the Jaguars are ramping up the volume of music at practice this week, it may not be enough to truly give the offense a glimpse of what it might be like on Sunday.
"Depends on how loud Gus wants to put it up," quarterback Chad Henne joked. "At times it can be just as loud, but you can never know what you’re getting into. If it’s third down or a key play in the game, they’re going to definitely be into it and we have to adjust to it and do the best we can."