Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Arrowhead Stadium makes visitors quiver
By Tim Graham
A few hours ago, I thought "NFL Live" analysts Mark Schlereth and Marcellus Wiley were off base by not including the New England Patriots in the conversation for most explosive offense.
We're in alignment again.
This week's ESPN.com Power Rankings deal with the league's toughest venues. I was alone among the eight divisional bloggers in putting Arrowhead Stadium atop my ballot. Nobody else had it higher than third. NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas didn't list it at all.
Schlereth and Wiley played there, and they expressed no doubt Arrowhead Stadium was the most difficult place to go. Wiley said it always felt like the Kansas City Chiefs were up 3-0 by the end of the national anthem.
"It's Arrowhead Stadium, and it's hands down," Wiley said, adding that it's the only place he ever had to insert earplugs to get through a game.
Schlereth recalled whenever he played at Arrowhead Stadium, the Denver Broncos would scrap 25 percent of their playbook and eliminate all seven-step drops because of the noise.
My complete ballot:
- Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Chiefs
- Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis Colts
- Qwest Field, Seattle Seahawks
- Soldier Field, Chicago Bears
- Heinz Field, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Invesco Field, Denver Broncos
- Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Eagles
- Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots
- Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers
- Metrodome, Minnesota Vikings
The biggest discrepancy with my ballot and the overall list was my ranking of Lambeau Field, which was first or second on six ballots. It was a subjective process, and I distinctly remember a mediocre Miami Dolphins squad traveling a long way to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field last season.
The Packers have gotten lit up at home a few times the past three years despite having terrific talent. I guess I couldn't get past that. I realize the Chiefs have gotten destroyed at Arrowhead, too. But it's not the stadium's fault Kansas City has fielded poor rosters.
NFC East blogger Dan Graziano gave Ralph Wilson Stadium his No. 1 vote, but the Buffalo Bills' home venue didn't appear on any other ballot. Graziano explained weather conditions buoyed his thinking.
Bills fans are some of the most dedicated and lively in the league. Their tailgates are off the charts, and their loyalty remains strong despite being tested by bad teams. But too many visiting teams have left Ralph Wilson Stadium with smiles on their faces the past decade.