I ran across a great article from former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger that basically supports one of the main theories of this site…good fans taking the right actions can help impact the game. If you want to be a better fan, bookmark this site and check back frequently. This was taken from the 12/12/04 issue of The Sporting News so I owe them the credit for this article:
When I played for the Eagles in 1992, we went to Dallas for a divisional playoff game. I played left guard, and though I was right near him, I never heard Randall Cunningham call a signal all day. The Dallas crowd was so noisy, the best I could do was keep one eye on the ball, the other on the tackle I had to block, and wait for the snap. We scored 10 points and lost.
Don’t let anyone tell you home field doesn’t matter in the playoffs. It does, especially to offensive linemen. When you can’t hear, you lose the advantage of knowing the snap count. You’re slower off the ball, and you’re not as strong as you’d like because you start every play with some indecision and doubt. You’re never really in attack mode.
Psychologically, the crowd can be such a boost for the home team. The roar gets the adrenaline pumping so much that you feel like you have a reserve energy tank. If you’re the visitor, the crowd can sap some of that energy out of you.
This is the core reason you see players motioning to the crowd to get loud on 3rd downs (technically they should be doing it every play, not just third downs). This is also the same reason you will see the scoreboards say “Make Some Noise!” (or something similar). Any fan should have an accomplished feeling when the opponent gets called for a false start penalty after the crowd went wild in the huddle…someone obviously didn’t hear the snap count (or lost their concentration in the madness). The flip side of this is that making all that noise when your team has the ball might do some detriment by not allowing them to hear the play call in the huddle either…however, Brian makes a good point by mentioning the added adrenaline when you hear the home crowd roar. Take a look at how the crowd amazingly impacted this Notre Dame/Michigan game:
**In case you were wondering, the NCAA eliminated the rule that penalizes teams if their crowds are too loud, or what I like to call, the That Fan rule (see the last bullet of the NCAA article)**
Over time I will be developing the That Fan 10 Commandments of Fandom for each of the main sports…making insane amounts of noise when your opponents have the ball will be a key item on the football list. Just some more future That Fan foreshadowing…