Here, for what it's worth, is my list of the best and worst, the good and bad, as far as NFL fans and stadiums are concerned:
First, the fans.
The best: The hometown supporters of the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium. Their support reaches such an emotional intensity that it infects the team, a contigion that is abetted by the closeness of the stands to the playing field.
The worst: For the visitors, at any rate, the fans in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Their boos, jeers and catcalls are intimidating.
The most dangerous: At least there seem to be - New York fans. They throw stones, and mobs of them rock the team buses of the visitors.
Most knowledgeable: Green Bay fans. They know the game and appreciate good football.
The loudest: Baltimore.
Now, the stadiums.
The plushest: Texas Stadium in Irving, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] on the eyes; Dallas again.It presents a unique problem. The partially enclosed stadium has a large open area at the top. For a typical 1 p.m. game the sunshine at the top contrasts so sharply with the darker interior that players' eyes cannot adjust for high kicks and passes. Thus, teams who win the coin toss sometimes elect to defend a goal with their back to the sun rather than receive the football in the first quarter (after which the sun dips behind the stadium rim).
Dallas fans bring a kaleidoscope of banners and signs to the games, which distract the eye.
Pennywise: Another nod to Dallas. For all the luxury, there is no clock in the visitors' dressing room.
Hardest: Candlestick Park in San Francisco, O. J. Simpson calls it "Candlestone" Park for good reason. Its playing surface is the hardest in the league, causing injuries and intimidating and inhibiting players.
Windiest: Candlestick again. Footballs take some funny bounces there - before they hit the ground.
Noisiest: Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. At the closed end of the horse-shoe the acoustics are so bad, and the crowds so enthusiastic it's impossible to hear on the playing field. Quarterbacks cannot call audibles at the line of scrimmage. Defenses know this, and can shift formations at the last instant while the offense must remain committed.
Loneliest: Chicago's Soldier Field. Bear fans are spirited, and attendance is good in this vast facility, but the stands are too far from the field.
Most treacherous: Soldier Field again. Trenches instead of benches for the players line the field. Players going full tilt toward the sidelines must depend on reserves standing at the trenches to catch them before they fall in.
Oddest topography: At the Meadowlands facility in New Jersey where the Giants play, the field is not flat. A slight rise or hump in the middle causes quarterbacks to throw too high.
Most expensive nuisance: At the SuperDome in New Orleans the overhanging scoreboard has deflected punts by Oakland's Ray Guy at least twice.
Rarest atmosphere: Denver's Mile High Stadium allows longer kicks because of the thinner air.
Most unlikely togetherness: In Bloomington, Minn., both team benches are on the same side of the field for Viking games. This handicaps one or the other coach when action moves to the ends of the field.
On a more serious note, the well-designed stadium of the future should contain the comfortable appointments of Texas Stadium, but unlike Texas Stadium should have natural instead of an artificial turf. The top should be open to allow the elements to play their part in the game.
Natural turf is essential, but a compromise might be reached in the middle of the field, which is worn down quickly. A "zip-out" of artificial turf could cover that area.
Amerians have, for better or worse, grown broader in the beam in the last several years. Stadium seats should be designed for comfort, wider - up to 16 to 18 inches.
Although it is not used for NFL football anymore, Wrigley Field in Chicago is close to the ideal. It is pleasant, roomy yet intimate, without lights - a throwback to what football was meant to be.
Many players and coaches breathed a sigh of relief when the Detroit Lions moved to their new stadium in Pontiac. When teams dressed at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit, they were forever bumping their heads in the low concrete doorways. Occasionally a tall man was knocked cold at the locker-room steps before the game ever began.