At a recent installment of Chargers Organized Team Activities the offense and defense were lining up against one another for a drill when suddenly the sideline loudspeakers erupted in a familiar tune: the War Chant.
It’s the one that originated at Florida State University in the 1980’s, moved to Atlanta when the Braves signed former Seminoles defensive back Deion Sanders, and is now a staple at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We’re going to Kansas City Week 1,” said cornerback Brandon Flowers, who spent the first six years of his career with the Chiefs. “It’s gonna be loud. We’re starting to get ready for it now.”
It was quite the surprise for everyone watching, the players included.
“I wasn’t expecting it today but when it came on I guarantee you everybody’s mind set went straight to where we’re going in Week 1,” said Flowers. “We’d be lying if we acted like we didn’t know who we were playing Week 1 so once we heard it everybody tried to lock in and it felt like a game tempo.”
That was the desired effect from head coach Mike McCoy, who came up with the idea to play the war chant.
“We understand the task at hand the opening week,” said McCoy. “Going to Kansas City, going to Arrowhead, the noise, the history, their fans, what they do week in and week out speaks for itself.”
The sudden jolt from a marching band took a few players off-guard, possibly because the music was supposed to start a little earlier. Technical difficulties caused a bit of a delay.
“As Philip was in the middle of his cadence all of a sudden Chuck [Sandusky, the Chargers facilities coordinator] blasts the noise and I believe it was Hunter [Henry, the Chargers rookie tight end] who jumped. So we’ve got to deal with that. It’s a learning experience and that’s why we’re doing it from Day 1. The great thing is our quarterback has played there a number of times.”
Philip Rivers has played 10 games at Arrowhead Stadium, going 5-5. He has a deep understanding of just how crazy that place can get and thinks it’s a great idea to start setting the tone in May.
“We’re a long way from Kansas City,” said quarterback Philip Rivers, “but any time you can simulate Kansas City and all the road places and have guys think when they’re a little bit tired and communicate with the guys that are new, I think you add the noise element and that way nobody gets real comfortable and you have to really focus in on the calls and working together.”
For a team that had trouble starting games well in 2015, beginning the process even before mini-camp should only help when September rolls around.
“It’s great that we’re starting it now, early, getting offensive guys that haven’t played in Kansas City to get used to it now,” said Flowers. “When we go there Week 1 we’ll be ready to roll.”
We only have to wait about three and a half months to see if the tactic worked.