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Old 12-05-2008, 09:46 PM  
JuicesFlowing JuicesFlowing is offline
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Gretz: The Thin Air Myth

The Thin Air Myth
Dec 05, 2008, 8:53:08 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ

The Chiefs will head back to the foothills of the Rockies this weekend, seeking their first victory in Denver since the start of the century.

OK, that’s only eight years ago, but start of the century sounds much longer and that’s how it feels to the folks around Arrowhead Stadium. Dick Vermeil was the head coach of the Chiefs for five seasons and his teams never won in Denver. This will be Herm Edwards third trip as the Chiefs head coach to Invesco Field and he’s still trying to find victory No. 1.

Edwards will have with him one guy who never had any problems beating the Broncos in Denver, or Kansas City for that matter. In his two seasons as head coach of the Chiefs, Gunther Cunningham’s teams were 4-0 against the Broncos, including victories by one and six points in the thin mountain air. The last time anybody won four or more in a row against Denver was Hank Stram back in the early 1970s.

There are some folks who like to think the Broncos have a big advantage because of their mile high address. This supposedly leaves visiting teams out of breath and unable to perform at their peak levels because they have to work harder just to breathe in the thin air.

Len Dawson enjoys that bit of rubbish.

“We would go up there and they would have those oxygen tanks and masks on the sideline and the guy who was also gulping oxygen was Jerrel Wilson,” Dawson said of the former Chiefs punter who was nicknamed Duck, short for Daffy Duck. “I don’t think the air ever slowed us down.”

Back when Mile High Stadium was their home, the Broncos had the elevation – 5,280 feet – painted in big numbers inside the visitors’ locker room. It was a bit of psychological gamesmanship. When he was the head coach, Marty Schottenheimer used to have Chiefs equipment people cover over the numbers with towels before the team got to the locker room before the game.

The thin air has never been a problem for Chiefs teams no matter the era. It’s the Broncos that have caused them problems. Denver was still a mile high when the Texans-Chiefs went 9-1 there in the 1960s and 11-2 in their first 13 visits. The Chiefs won one of those games by 52 points and another by 46 points.

Since those early days, the Broncos have been a much better team and the Chiefs have struggled to win there in the 70s (3-7), 80s (2-8), 90s (3-7) and now the new century (1-7). Those records are directly related to the quality of the two teams, rather than altitude.

But there’s no explaining why Schottenheimer’s teams had such problems when visiting Denver. It started when his Browns lost there in the 1987 AFC Championship Game. When he came to the Chiefs, it got worse. In 10 seasons, the Chiefs finished ahead of the Broncos six times in the AFC West standings, yet they won in Denver just two times (1994 and 1995.)

At one point, the Chiefs consulted with the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs about dealing with high altitude. They were considering going out earlier in the week, rather than the day before the game. The experts at the Olympic Center told the team the only way to adapt the body to the thin air would be to spend a week working out and acclimating. Otherwise, the less time spent there on site before the game, the better.

The Broncos have lost three straight at Invesco this season, falling to Jacksonville, Miami and Oakland. They lost those three by an average of 12 points.

So how do teams from sea level like Jacksonville, Miami and Oakland go in and win in the mile high atmosphere? By simply outperforming the Broncos; that’s why the Chiefs have lost seven in a row there.

It’s not the air.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:50 PM   #2
Ebolapox Ebolapox is offline
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yeah. it's not the air, it's our suck.
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Old 12-05-2008, 09:53 PM   #3
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From what I understand (and I'm no doctor), it takes two or three days before the air affects anyone except the elderly or the very young. The key for most folks is to stay hydrated.

Besides, 5,280 feet isn't very high at all, especially for well trained athletes.

Play the games in Vail or Breckenridge, then the Colorado team might have an advantage.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:13 PM   #4
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Sea level air is too thin for Gretz.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:15 PM   #5
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When I was 12, I went to the top of Pike's Peak and the air was so thin I almost passed out when I got out of the car. It sucked.

They should play games up there.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClevelandBronco View Post
From what I understand (and I'm no doctor), it takes two or three days before the air affects anyone except the elderly or the very young. The key for most folks is to stay hydrated.

Besides, 5,280 feet isn't very high at all, especially for well trained athletes.

Play the games in Vail or Breckenridge, then the Colorado team might have an advantage.
You have it backwards - it takes a while to get used to it. It effects folks differently. It usually effects one's stamina and recovery. It happens to me when biking every time I ride in Albuquerque, Uath, and Colorado or anyplace else at high altitude. I get tired easily and the deeper my breadths, the less it does for my recovery. However, once I'm there for a couple of days, I'm fine. Also, when I leave after being there for any length of time (more than 2 weeks) I have more energy than normal for a couple of days when I get back to sea level.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigRock View Post
When I was 12, I went to the top of Pike's Peak and the air was so thin I almost passed out when I got out of the car. It sucked.

They should play games up there.
HAHA. Me too when I was 8. My dad caught me by the hood of my coat. When I first moved here to Denver a year ago though I could definately tell the difference. You just get winded faster for the first week or so. some people (my wife) even get physically ill for a few days.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:33 PM   #8
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Anyone who exercises at sea level who has ever taken a random trip up to altitude and exercised will tell you it's not a myth. In fact, I'm surprised they don't make more out of it. What it really does to a football player is negatively impact how fast you regain your wind between plays. I used to think it was a myth until I went to visit some friends in Santa Fe, NM for a week, elevation appx. 7000 feet. The first day we played a halfcourt game of 3 on 3 ball and after 5 minutes I was sucking wind. I lifted weights several times during that week and had to double my recovery between sets. The second time I had to catch a connecting flight in the Denver airport and had to run through the airport to catch my flight. I got on the plane and spent the next 2 hours unable to breathe and thought they were gonna have to cart me out in a bodybag. It was at that moment that I vowed never to be pissed off or surprised when any football team loses in Denver.
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Old 12-05-2008, 10:50 PM   #9
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The one thing Gretz has right in this article is getting there as late as possible. In fact, I'd fly in 2 hours before game time and go right to the locker room.

And it takes a hell of a lot longer than 3 days to get used to that shit if you're a flatlander.
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:27 AM   #10
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Gretz = Peterson's PR chimp.

Gretz-

"They haven't won there since the start of this century"

"Ok, it's not that bad, it's only been 8 years"

Me-

ONLY Gretz ? ONLY ? Are you f*c*in serious Fat Bob? Only 8 years?

Gretz, how about you put Carl's d*ck down, so you have a free hand, grab the nearest blunt object and kill yourself with it !
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Old 12-06-2008, 11:40 AM   #11
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I thought Gretz was going to address his brainlessness with this article, cause I sure as hell thought there was nothing but thin air between his ears.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:15 PM   #12
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I thought Gretz was going to address his brainlessness with this article, cause I sure as hell thought there was nothing but thin air between his ears.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:26 PM   #13
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You guys leave Gretzy alone.

Leave him alone.

He's a great writer and he loves us.

Leave him alone.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:29 PM   #14
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You guys leave Gretzy alone.

Leave him alone.

He's a great writer and he loves us.

Leave him alone.
HE'S A HUMAN!
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:33 PM   #15
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I live in an area that is at 2500ft elevation, and went up to Dillon,Co elevation 9200ft. When I was there I installed about 500 square feet of wood floor at a very fast pace without breaking a sweat.

Of course, when I fly up around 14,000 feet (non-pressurized), I feel very little effects from the low oxygen levels, also.

But, I have talked to people that get light-headed quickly when they go to the mountains, though.

I think it has a lot to do with your conditioning and stamina. In the NFL, both sides are in excellent condition, but a half-step advantage in the third quarter can be the difference between a Touchdown and a loss.
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Old 12-06-2008, 12:36 PM
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