Volume 95, Issue 61

Tuesday, January 22, 2002
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Mustang women making waves

Sweet home cooking

Metallica+broken ass = figure skating

Weekend Rundown

Sweet home cooking

Standing O
Ryan Dixon
Sports Editor

Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden and Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre no doubt shared a moment this weekend.

Both men knew it was only a fantasy, but there was Gruden, California dreamin' on such a New England winter's day. And there was Favre, in the middle of a doomed dome, left only to wish he was walking in a winter wonderland.

Behind enemy lines, watching their teams go down in defeat, both men had to wonder if things could have been different if their respective games were contested in their own backyards.

Oakland's major beef with their overtime loss to the New England Patriots had to do with a referee who fumbled a call – just like Tom Brady fumbled the ball. Despite playing great football under the miserable conditions, there was a "fish out of water" quality about the Raiders in snow.

I have to wonder if the game would have ever been close enough for one botched call to make all the difference had it been played in the Bay Area.

The St. Louis Rams are faster, stronger and just plain better than Green Bay. It should come as no surprise they left the cheese heads looking moldy and stale. So, why does something tell me the great disparity between the two teams would have evaporated had Sunday's playoff game been contested on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field?

This might seem like a no brainer.

Yes, the Packers have never lost a playoff game at home, so you could say it would have been an entirely different game if played in Green Bay – that's about as big of a revelation as saying Britney Spears lip syncs at her concerts.

The simple truth – there is just something intangible about playing at home that causes a team to rise above their abilities.

That's the reason NFL teams fight tooth and nail in September and October for the right to host playoff games.

The legitimacy of a team's hopes on the road can be exemplified on the most basic level – what they wear.

The Raiders, for example, are known for their menacing silver and black jerseys at home. No blood shows up on black, so they never seem to bleed. Put them in their road white and all of a sudden, they disappear into the depths of a nasty New England snow storm.

Ditto for the Packers.

They may as well stick their white uniforms on the first down marker and wave them as white flags. I mean they're Green Bay, not Off-White Bay.

Of course there are those who will tell you there is no advantage to playing at home. The pressure can be overwhelming, but home field disadvantage is usually limited to young, inexperienced teams like 'Da Bears' that aren't quite ready to take that next step.

Such is why they contest the Super Bowl in a crazed but neutral city. It eliminates any geographic advantage ensuring the fairest result, while simultaneously providing all involved with a hell of a party.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001