When a person, a place or a thing can be summed up with one word, you know there is a great status conveyed by those having the discussion.
When a pro football player or fan says, “Arrowhead,” it conjures up a loud stadium nestled in a sea of red.
Over my 30 years in the National Football League I have watched Kansas City’s home stadium go from a place where the visiting teams won regularly to one that is considered by many the most feared and intimidating venue in pro football.
The Chiefs’ home record bears that out of course, but the fans have a high degree of ownership in that record as well.
No team does any better than Kansas City in having their fans were the appropriate color, starting on Friday when many business people either abandon the suit and tie in favor of a red sweatshirt, or just add the neckwear to the necessary business uniform.
They carry it onto game day as well. Arrowhead Stadium will be full, red, and raucous this Sunday when the Broncos play the Chiefs.
The home team has earned its reputation as tough to beat at home, but Broncos fans should remember that the biggest game Denver ever played in Arrowhead Stadium was a Denver win — a 14-10 victory in the divisional round AFC playoff game in 1997, a win that sent the Broncos to Pittsburgh for the AFC title game and eventually to the team’s first world championship.
So I don’t buy the fact that you can’t win in KC, not at all. Each game is its own entity, and it is always about how you prepare and plan for that game, and how you execute that planning on game day.
After all, the Broncos this week are not trying to reverse the all-time won-lost record at Arrowhead. The goal is the same as it is every week — just win one game. Just win today.
How you execute is the key to winning, not the locale.
You can count on Mike Shanahan making every effort to have his Broncos (not his young Broncos, or his injury-depleted Broncos, just his BRONCOS) ready to play at Kansas City this week.
Right now every Denver fan is focused on the fact that the Broncos are 1-5 in their last six games, with a slate of statistics to accompany that mark.
And that viewpoint is understandable, because it represents what is current, and at all times, it is all about “now.”
But just as accurate, from a mathematical standpoint, is the fact that Denver sits just one game behind the Chiefs and San Diego Chargers in the AFC West.
We all remember the Super Bowl winners, but almost never can we recite the regular-season record of that team.
Ultimately, it is all about getting into the playoffs, and winning the division is still winning the division.
The Broncos just are not out of it, and that is where the coaches and players have their focus.
I understand entirely that everyone feels different from that, but we still have to have the season play out.
The game this Sunday actually is the type athletes like — a great, knowledgeable audience, and every player likes the opportunity to shine on the road, to show his wares before a hostile crowd, and do enough to make it quiet.
The Arrowhead fan base is a great one, loud, supportive, and in general polite. My wife has made several trips to KC to watch the Broncos play the Chiefs, and she has seen us play in many other stadia as well. By far, her comments about Arrowhead and its fans are positive compared to several other experiences she has had in the stands.
They are passionate; they are tough; they are supportive of the Chiefs — but they are great fans with great standards.
Solid midwestern values brought to the football venue.
The Broncos are in a tough spot, no question about it, but nobody ever said that lofty goals should be easy to attain.
Every game is a chance to excel, and the next one for Denver comes in the NFL’s classic outdoor venue.
This ought to be a classic battle at Arrowhead, and one that could revive the pulse of the Broncos and their fans as well.