DENVER – In hopes of gaining a tactical edge while playing at the Denver Broncos’ notoriously tough Mile High Stadium, the San Diego Chargers held their final practice at a Willie Nelson concert, hoping it would simulate Mile High’s unique atmosphere.
“We work on conditioning all season long, and guys are ready to give their all on Sunday with our season on the line, but nothing can prepare you for 60 minutes of playing in a stadium that high,” said Chargers coach Mike McCoy, adding that even players who had dealt with the Mile High experience in the past couldn’t possibly be ready for Mile High post-legalization. “You enter that stadium hungry for a win, then WHAM – you’re completely winded.”
“Still hungry – even hungrier than before, actually – but unable to do anything to satisfy that hunger,” McCoy added, spraying a mouthful of Funyuns.
The Chargers experimented with a variety of practice facilities this week, holding workouts at a Snoop Dogg show, a 2 AM walk-through at KFC, and even full-contact highs at Don’s Dank Dispensary. But according to McCoy, nothing simulated the Mile High experience quite like a three-hour practice at Nelson’s concert.
“I’ve played in some big games with some fired-up crowds, but this was on a different level,” said Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers. “When Willie started playing On the Road Again, I couldn’t hear myself think – though that was partly because I was eating a bunch of Pringles. Have you ever heard how loud those things sound in your own head? It’s crazy, man.”
At press time, McCoy refused to confirm or deny reports that the team had signed former NFL running back Ricky Williams as a Special Assistant / Spiritual Advisor / Shaman-in-Residence for the remainder of the postseason.