KANSAS CITY, Mo. — He brought three sets of earplugs and burned through two of them. A half-hour after the Kansas City Chiefs drubbed Oakland, 24-7, the man in the Guinness Book of World Records blazer was still buzzing.
“It was incredible,” Phillip Robertson said, his English accent breathlessly caressing each syllable in the tunnels beneath Arrowhead Stadium.
“A real fun atmosphere to listen to. (The fans) were really excited, really upbeat, really behind their team, there was no booing — it was just incredible to watch. They were really supporting their team as the true ’12th Man.'”
“True 12th Man,” huh?
Put that in your espresso machine and steam it, Seattle.
“I think (I’ve) also got to say you were loud the entire game,” Robertson said Sunday after the crowd at Arrowhead set a new Guinness World Record — 137.5 decibels — for the noisiest crowd ever at an outdoor sporting event. “Perhaps louder than the fans in Seattle. (Now) that’s uncertain, that’s anecdotal. But it was extraordinary.”
Well, that and painful. To put that 137.5 number in perspective, The Who hit the record book in 1976 after reaching 126 decibels in London. In 2009, a KISS concert in Canada reportedly hit the 136-decibel mark.
“We’re all just one big team,” tight end Sean McGrath said after the game. “It’s Chiefs Kingdom, and they do a great job bring the noise, boy.”
This Robertson cat is the real deal — a Brit based in New York, who travels as an adjudicator for Guinness throughout North America. Last week, he judged the fastest attempt escape from a straitjacket while underwater. On Thursday, he’s slated to head down to Georgia to observe a skillet-tossing event.
On Saturday, it’s “the most people in a full-body burn simultaneously,” Robertson explained. “Which essentially means they’re on fire.”
On fire. Right.
At any rate, he judges a lot of these things, some stranger than others. And he was also on hand last month at rainy CenturyLink Field in Seattle, when the crowd at the Seahawks-49ers set the bar at a then-world record of 136.6 decibels.
“They screamed for an incredibly long time,” he pointed out. “We don’t measure the length of screams. But the screams (at Arrowhead) were probably longer than I’d heard in Seattle.”
Stronger, too — at least toward the end. Robertson and his crew were set up near the south end zone, providing the occasional updates on the giant video boards, where the sound levels were announced to be in the 135-decibel-range for much of the afternoon.
Then, as if by magic — and this is the part that’s already got the conspiracy theorists hopping — something changed. With roughly 1:15 left to go in the contest, one that was pretty much officially over 20 seconds earlier on Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah’s pick-6, the meter jumped.
Robertson pointed to a section on his notepad where he’d scribbled a bunch of numbers. At the bottom it read: 135.4.
“And that’s where we thought we were going to finish,” he continued. “Heads had dropped and everyone had kind of presumed, ‘Well, we won, it was amazing, we’re 6-0,’ and then all of a sudden, ping! Fans descended and fans started working together, (and) recorded a new record. Incredible.”
Now we have no idea if that’s the noise his machine actually makes or just a fun bit of Monty Pythonesque poetic license, but ping! it is.
Either way, take a bow, Ty Rowton. You and your fellow Chiefs fans just pulled off the ultimate Guinness fourth-quarter comeback.
“That’s a testament to Chiefs fans that just kept bringing it the whole game,” said Rowton, one of a half-dozen supporters who founded the Facebook group “Terrorhead Returns,” the grassroots movement that eventually spurred Robertson’s presence in Kansas City. “I’d said we were going to have to bring it the whole game, because we didn’t know when the record would fall. But I believe in the fan base.”
The Raiders — who lost at Arrowhead for the first time since 2006 — believe, now, too. Communication problems were rampant among Oakland’s personnel from start to finish. With a minute left in the first half, the Raiders had not one, but two, players commit false starts on the same play.
According to the official play-by-play, the visitors were flagged for four false starts and three delay-of-game penalties, all of the taking place in quarters two through four.
“That’s where you see the proof is in the pudding,” Rowton croaked after the game, his throat in tatters, “is (those) penalties by the opposing defense.”
And did we mention that the Raiders surrendered 10 sacks and allowed a whopping 14 quarterback hits along the way? Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor spent more time on his back than a pig at a petting zoo.
“It was awesome,” said Abdullah, who was credited with a half of those 10 quarterback takedowns. “But I have a feeling that this year, it’s going to keep cranking up. That record is going to get broken and broken and broken.”
Which means we might be getting more visits from Robertson, assuming someone doesn’t accidentally light him on fire or conk him in the head with a flying skillet first. At one point on Sunday, Rowton noted, he even ran into a family from Canada. The father insisted his daughter was screaming so loudly, with such intensity, that her nose actually started bleeding.
“(After the game) we were surrounded by Raiders fans, and I said to a friend, if one of them had a gun, they could go ahead and shoot me,” Rowton said. “Because I could die happy.”
Fortunately, he’s still here. And, more importantly, the world record is here, too. Hopefully, to stay.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.