A Question Of Color

I tried to tell you, Herm. It was about this time last year, after the Chiefs had been thumped by the Cincinnati Bengals in the home opener, that I wrote: "Don't wear the white jerseys at home again. Ever."

By now, you've probably heard. The Chiefs will run out from the Arrowhead Stadium tunnel on Sunday adorned in shimmering, gleaming white jerseys. And for what reason?

The heat.

That's it. The Chiefs won't be awarded five points for field goals or 10 for touchdowns for playing in white jerseys. They'll merely be gifted a little extra protection from the sun's rays.

If that's so important, why don't the Chiefs install some nice shade awnings along the home sideline? Maybe have the Arrowhead Stadium waiters serve some nice, cool little drinks with umbrellas? Heck, maybe Carl Peterson can get that Coors Light train to become a permanent fixture at Arrowhead Stadium.

This is wrong. This is 47 years of tradition (even the Dallas Texans wore red at home), flushed down the toilet simply because of the temperature. It's not even going to be all that hot this weekend in Kansas City, and the mercury won't come close to the level it does in Miami, where they wear white annually at home for a good reason.

Complaining about what color jersey the Chiefs wear at home might seem silly, but to some people, it really is a big deal. The sight of Chiefs players running around in red helmets and jerseys is almost as addictive as Gates barbecue to the people of Kansas City. I believe there's a real psychological effect to it. People are drawn to it.

Chiefs fans are already disgruntled with the way this team is being run and upset with an 0-2 start. I can't imagine the 80,000 who show up at Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday will be pleased when they see 46 White Knights run onto the field. There's already plenty of reasons for these people to boo the home team. Why give them another?

Does wearing white in what is projected to be an 87-degree, partly-cloudy day really bestow that much of an advantage on the home team? Looking over the first two weeks of the NFL schedule, 11 teams wore white at home. Those teams went 6-5 in those 11 games.

But looking at the scores of these games (Patriots 38, Jets 14, for example), one hardly gets the feeling that wearing white was a key factor in the final outcome. It certainly didn't help the Dolphins a week ago, as they deflected the sun's rays in an incredible display of temperature-conscious football while losing to the Dallas Cowboys by 17 points.

Tradition aside, here's what I really don't like about wearing white at home – it sends a message to your team that says, "We aren't good enough to win on our own merits. We need outside help, so we're going to make our opponents sweat as much as possible."

Here's a better idea – mind over matter. Isn't Edwards always saying "It's the will, not the skill?" I think the head coach should defer to his defensive coordinator on the issue of heat. During training camp, HBO captured Gunther Cunningham barking at his players on the subject:

"It's f****** hot, so what? Don't worry about how hot it is, worry about what we're going to become."

What a novel concept. Maybe the Chiefs should worry about stopping Adrian Peterson and blocking Minnesota's defensive line today, instead of how hot it is. Dozens of great Chiefs teams walloped their opponents in home openers over the past half-century. Most of those teams were clad in bright, beautiful red jerseys. Just like the fans in the stands – the ones who make up the Sea of Red, not the Sea of Slightly Grass-Stained White.

Can you really picture Tamba Hali calling up Larry Johnson this week and merrily announcing that they didn't have to suffer in red jerseys this Sunday? I can't either.

There's still time, Herm. Call up Brad Childress and tell the Vikings to bring their white jerseys. The home team wears red in Kansas City.

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