Chiefs flags go up on the Country Club Plaza ahead of playoff game
Tony Dungy just wanted to get some sleep, but it wasn’t going to happen.
As the Chiefs’ defensive backs coach, Dungy had arrived home about 2 a.m. after Kansas City throttled the Buffalo Bills 33-6 on a “Monday Night Football” game at Arrowhead Stadium in early October 1991.
A short week beckoned, so Dungy was eager to hit the hay. The problem: someone pounding on his door.
It was his neighbor.
“We got there right after work, never sat down the whole game, we felt like we were a part of this win,” the man, who was still wired hours after the final gun, told Dungy.
Dungy, now an analyst for NBC Sports, chuckled at the memory earlier this week. In Dungy’s mind, that was the beginning of the Arrowhead Experience.
“That was kind of the start of the fans really being into it ... the tailgating and the atmosphere and the parking lot,” Dungy said.
Dungy expects Arrowhead to be rocking when he is there for Saturday’s AFC divisional-round playoff game between the Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts.
The game will be broadcast on NBC, and the network will be bringing its entire pregame show to Arrowhead Stadium, including Dungy, Mike Tirico and Rodney Harrison.
NBC said it is taking a “Super Bowl-like approach to its pregame coverage,” which will begin at 2 p.m. and run for 90 minutes.
“I really want our opening report to be like the ... a Super Bowl pregame show where we have a reporter outside the Colts locker room, a reporter outside Chiefs locker room, people on the field, people outside the stadium where the fans are,” NBC producer Rob Hyland said. “Really give the viewer the best seat in the house and let everyone know that we have every aspect of this game and this event covered.”
Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will call the game with Michele Tafoya reporting from the field. Chris Simms and Mike Florio also will be part of the pregame show at Arrowhead Stadium.
The pregame show will include pre-taped visits with people around Kansas City as NBC took its cameras to Arthur Bryant’s, The Peanut and other businesses. NBC will have 80 staff members and 300 credentialed people at Arrowhead.
So, yeah, NBC is treating this as a big game.
“I can’t wait to get there later in the week,” Tirico said. “It’ll be a sea of red in the Plaza on Friday night and Saturday in the Arrowhead parking lot. I’m excited that we’re going to be around some of the fans earlier in our pregame Saturday before we take it inside to the field. We don’t do this all that often. We do it for the opening game of the season, so to be a part of this on the road for a game like this is great, and then when it’s a setting like Arrowhead, it becomes a grand slam.”
The pregame show will begin at 2 p.m. at a set outside of Arrowhead, and NBC is encouraging Chiefs fans to come by to watch. Closer to game time, the crew will move inside to a set inside the stadium, which will be near the 10-yard line.
For Dungy, a Chiefs-Colts playoff meeting is particularly special.
“It was a really, really enjoyable time (with the Chiefs) so this is going to be like a homecoming for me, and with the Colts coming in also, it couldn’t be a better situation,” said, Dungy who coached the Colts from 2002-08.
Tirico, who used to call “Monday Night Football” games, has found memories of Arrowhead as well.
“When we did the Monday games ... there was a little walk from where we would park the bus in our compound area to the stadium,” Tirico said. “Jon Gruden and I would always try to figure out a place where we could line up a couple of ribs or something that smelled good to actually take up to the booth and enjoy, and people were always good enough to oblige.”