NoiseGate is no longer an Atlanta Falcons scandal, it’s now the NFL norm.
The Falcons once broke the rules by pumping fake crowd noise into the stadium during a two-year span from 2013-14. Atlanta was ultimately punished for the artificial noise which resulted in the loss of a fifth-round draft pick in 2015 and a fine of $350,000.
"I'm not sure our organization should be talking about pumping in crowd noise," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan jested with reporters in June. "I think we had a small issue with that a little while ago."
Now the funny, yet unfortunate reality, is the Falcons piped-in noise will be the only form of noise played in the empty 71,000 seat stadium when the Seahawks roll into town for their Week 1 matchup.
As Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner prepares for games without the clamor of fans in the stadium, he can only lean on the experience he’s had during Seattle’s two mock games as preparation.
“Obviously it’s different because you don’t get to have your fans, screaming your name and things of that nature, causing havoc for the offense,” Wagner said. “But the first mock game we had, I feel like we had the mic really loud, so it felt like CenturyLink, and in the second game, we kind of toned it down a little bit. So, it’s going to be different, walking into each stadium is gonna be different. But from what I know, I think it’s just going to be like that the whole game. It’s not going to be up and down like the normal crowds, it’s going to be playing the whole time. So, I’m just excited to get back on the field.”
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The NFL moved to allow artificial crowd noise and music in the stadiums during games but laid out strict guidelines for teams to follow. For example, audio must not be played at 70 decibels or higher.
This could certainly take away from the Seahawks competitive “home field advantage,” at CenturyLink Field, as the 12s have recorded noise as high as 136.6 decibels, breaking a Guinness World Record.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if that did happen, I kind of thought it might,” Carroll said of the NFL issuing standards across the board. “As far as we know, we’re playing whatever sound that they put out there… a couple weeks from now, we’ve already kind of decided how we’ll do it if we have the choice.”
In 2020, there’s no perfect answer for how the Seahawks or any other NFL team are going to deal with the artificial crowd sound during the no-fan mandate.
But if you ask Wagner, he wouldn’t mind some additional noise.
“My take is always make it as loud as possible,” Wagner said. “Any way to make the life of the offense hard, I’m all for that.”