I always enjoy watching head coaches across the league talk about playing in Oakland. You can tell they want to say, "These people are absolute wackos and I felt scared for my safety at times." But what they really say, as Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley did this week, is that the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum is "one of the unique places" in the NFL.
"It was in basically my first year here and so we're riding on the bus and I'm asleep going to the game because it was a nice long drive from the hotel we stayed in. All of a sudden you hear all this noise, all this 'Boom, boom, boom!' and you looked up and it was people throwing batteries at the bus. "I just remember thinking to myself, 'What did we just drive into?' I thought we just drove into hail and then all the people, everybody shooting you the bird. I've never been in anything like it."
Batteries. Flipping the bird. Sounds like one of the places that lives up to its reputation. Waters also says you don't go into the end zones, especially when you're warming up, if you don't want to hear about your Mother.
Chiefs head coach Todd Haley says Oakland is one of those places where you need to prepare your players a little to play. The Chiefs won four games last year and one of those was on the road at Oakland so they know they can win here. In fact, the Chiefs have won here for seven consecutive years.
"Some of these young guys that haven’t been in the league or Oakland hasn’t been one of their teams or they’re not a West Coast guy that’s maybe been to some games....I think you need to lay it out there a little bit that it’s a little different from how you enter the field and like I said, the parking lot, you’ll always see some interesting things. But it’s football and the field is the same as everywhere we go. They’ve got great fans, they’re very passionate and it’s a fun place to go be part of a football game."
I would definitely describe Raider fans as passionate -- at least the ones that show up. Last week's home game drew 35,000 folks. That's a little less than half of what is necessary for a sellout so they've got a long way to go before this place is legitimately packed.
Waters also says that he and the Chiefs have let the crowd get to them at times in the past but they've also gone down there and won seven years in a row. I do think the Black Hole is intimidating but the Chiefs haven't had any problems winning lately. This Chiefs team seems more focused than in the past so I'm not sure that all of the Raider fans' tactics will be working on Sunday.