Broncos wary of trip to Arrowhead

Updated: October 2, 2003, 7:57 PM ET

DENVER -- The Broncos have been talking all week about how difficult it is to play at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium.

How tough? Just ask Rod Smith about his first game there. He barely made it past the national anthem.

"The game hadn't even started," the nine-year veteran said Thursday. "When they said 'the home of the Chiefs' in the national anthem, I thought they were coming to tackle us, come out of the stands and get us because we're hated there."

No doubt.

Kansas City fans tend to dislike anyone who dares enter Arrowhead to try to beat the Chiefs, but the venom intensifies when the Broncos are in town. Imagine nearly 80,000 fans screaming and yelling things that would make a trucker blush -- for a whole game.

Talk about feeling unwelcome.

"Being there, you're the ultimate underdog," Smith said. "You've got old ladies cussing you out. You name it."

Jake Plummer has played at Arrowhead before with the Arizona Cardinals, but this will be his first start there in a Denver uniform. He knows what to expect.

"I've seen a couple of times some fans with my jersey on with a bunch of arrows stuck in it," he said. "If they do that, I figure I can handle anything."

But it will be a different story for the young players who have never experienced a Broncos-Chiefs game at Arrowhead.

Sure, they've heard about how intimidating it can be, and the team has pumped in crowd noise at practice to simulate the conditions. But the full understanding of Arrowhead's effects won't come until it hits them in the face.

"Going there, it's a playoff game. It's Monday Night Football. It's all those very important games no matter what time of year it is," Smith said. "For the young guys going there to experience it for the first time, they'll be amazed." ^------=

^MORE ON RUSH:@ Smith said he wasn't surprised by the racially charged comments made by Rush Limbaugh earlier this week. He doesn't think it's an issue that's going to go away anytime soon, either.

"As long as I'm black, it's going to be an issue. As long as you're white, it's going to be an issue," Smith said to reporters Thursday. "So there's nothing you can do about it. There are going to be people who say what they want. It's just a matter of how everyone interprets it."

Limbaugh said during an ESPN pregame show that Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because the media wanted to see a black quarterback do well.

Limbaugh quit the show Wednesday night after several people called for the network to fire him.

Running back Clinton Portis has spent most of the week trying to get his bruised sternum in shape for this week's game and didn't hear about the comments until Thursday morning.

He was just a surprised as everyone else that Limbaugh would say something like that on the air, but he didn't think he meant it to be racially insensitive.

"You know, he put himself in a bad situation," Portis said. "I don't think he wanted to be looked at as a racist or anything, but that was a bad comment at the wrong time." ^------=

^EXTRA POINTS:@ The Elias Sports Bureau has changed a combined sack by Trevor Pryce and Mario Fatafehi in Sunday's game against Detroit. Pryce now is credited with a full sack and has two on the season, while Fatafehi has none. ... SS Kenoy Kennedy practiced for the second straight day and the Broncos are hopeful that his sprained ankle will be well enough for him to play Sunday. ... DT Daryl Gardener didn't practice because of the flu. Shanahan said he doesn't expect that to set him back for returning this week. Gardener has been out all season after having wrist surgery. ... C Tom Nalen didn't practice because of a sprained ankle suffered against Detroit last Sunday, but he might test it in practice Friday. ... RB Clinton Portis had the team laughing at the start of practice when he came out wearing an old helmet with no face mask and his pants sagging, and yelling "Put me in coach! Put me in!"

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index