KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of the Kansas City Chiefs’ AFC Divisional playoff game, one great national pastime has re-emerged: trash talk.
Most of it stems from a comment from Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence who said he “can’t imagine it will be much louder than our fans were here on Saturday honestly.”
Of course, Chiefs fans are using that as bulletin board material.
Pretty much everyone knows GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium’s reputation for noise, and fans are looking for any incentive to get even louder for Saturday’s game — even if it might be somewhat detrimental to their health.
The sound of a jet engine: It’s one of the few comparisons to fans at Arrowhead when they set the Guinness World Record for stadium noise at 142.2 decibels. That was during a game against the New England Patriots in 2014.
But the reputation goes back even farther, like an iconic complaint from then-Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway in 1990.
“Again, I have asked the defense to help lower the crowd noise. Any further crowd noise problem will result in a charged time-out for Kansas City,” an official said during that matchup against the Broncos.
So fans are aware of conditions.
“We as a family talked about not talking for most of the day so we could save our voices for the 3-hour game,” said Ryan Mills, a Chiefs fan from Salt Lake City, Utah.
The common knowledge is perhaps the reason some Chiefs fans have been irked by Lawrence brushing off noise concerns.
“You get used to it through college and then now these last two years, so it’s just something you learn to get used to,” Lawrence said in a press conference following the Jags comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
“I think he is not expecting the hurricane of loudness that is going to come from the stadium,” said Carter Mills, also from Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Even if it’s a normal game, the place is like a rock concert. But on a Monday night or playoff game — I’ve been to a few, including the AFC Championship they won to get the Super Bowl — you’re partially deaf for about half a day when you get out of the stadium,” said Robert Emaus, from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
That’s why some health professionals are recommending fans attending the game wear earplugs.
“People don’t feel cool wearing an earplug, but again, it’s important to protect your hearing,” said Dr. Sam Bittel, audiologist with Hearing & Balance Specialists of Kansas City.
Bittel works with people who have had hearing loss attending loud events, so the pride of Arrowhead crowd noise — in his opinion — should also come with caution.
“I like to tell people that if you’re ever an arm’s length from someone and you have to raise your voice to communicate, that means the sound is dangerously loud. And clearly that’s happening at a Chiefs game, for example,” Bittel said.
“It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A simple foam earplug is enough as long as it’s inserted properly, which means nice and deep in the ear, it should block out the sound. Things should sound muffled, and that should be enough to protect hearing. That’s really all that it takes. It’s pretty simple,” Bittel said.
“I’m a huge Chiefs fan myself, but I protect my hearing because hearing loss is permanent. I mean it happens oftentimes, and you don’t get it back. It’s one of those things where you don’t want to be living the rest of your life with hearing loss for a football game,” Bittel said.
But many fans want to see how far they can take their team spirit.
“I hope we break the noise record tomorrow. That would be sweet. I was here when they broke it the last time. I’m going to be doing my part tomorrow for sure,” Emaus said.
At the world record volume, unprotected, Bittel said there is no safe amount of time to be exposed to that amount of decibels. He also noted that children are more susceptible to the negative impact than adults.
And to be fair to Lawrence, he also said that Arrowhead Stadium is one of the best — if not the best — venues in the NFL while making his comment about crowd noise.