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Reasons Why An Outdoor, Cold-Weather Super Bowl Is A Great Idea

Jan 28 2014, 3:35am CST | by , in News | Super Bowl

Reasons Why An Outdoor, Cold-Weather Super Bowl Is A Great Idea
 
 

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Reasons Why An Outdoor, Cold-Weather Super Bowl Is A Great Idea

This Sunday the Denver Broncos will play the Seattle Seahawks in the first-ever outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The forecast, for now anyway, calls for temperatures in the mid-30s on February 2nd. It may even rain and snow.

Many people feel that very idea of playing a cold-weather Super Bowl is a catastrophe. The quarterback, Joe Flacco, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl win in last year’s game (and picked up the MVP trophy along the way), said that playing the big game outdoors in a cold-weather city was “stupid.” Terry Bradshaw, the former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and four-time Super Bowl champion, said: “I don’t think you should be putting Super Bowls in northern cities in the winter time,” arguing that cold weather gives an advantage to teams with strong running games. Perhaps this is just two quarterbacks looking out for their ilk, always seeking ideal passing conditions. But it’s worth noting that Bradshaw spent his career playing in an outdoor stadium in a cold-weather city, and that Flacco does the same now.

Jeff Pearlman, writing for Sports Illustrated’s website, argued that hosting the game at MetLife Stadium was a bad idea because it might be…cold. SI’s Peter King says he’s worried about the fans. Football coaching great, Don Shula, says the big game should stick to warm-weather locales because “you don’t want the weather to influence a game that much.”

I think they’re all wrong.

First off, there is the clichéd argument that you hear from pro-outdoor, cold-weather city proponents like me: This is football, a game we celebrate in large part because of its manly-man attributes, part of which means playing the game in pretty much any weather conditions, save for lightning. That this argument has become a cliché does not detract from its basic truth.

Of course, the players and coaches are not the only participants in the football game. There will be fans there, as Peter King has pointed out. But, really, if we fans can’t bundle up properly and sit through THE SUPER BOWL then, really, we shouldn’t be going in the first place. It may be a made-for-TV publicity stunt, but NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, says he will be sitting outside during the game.

Which brings up another point, one that may seem callous but is nonetheless true: The Super Bowl, and really the entire NFL, is all about TV. The weather means very little to the folks that matter to the $9 billion-plus league (revenues)—the advertisers, who are paying a reported $4 million for a 30-second ad during this year’s game. The reason these brands will fork over that amount of dough is that folks at home will tune into the game even if the wind chill is -3 degrees. And they will watch those ads.

Cold weather—really, any out-of-the-ordinary weather, save for fog—has made for some of the most memorable games in the history of the sport. The Ice Bowl (1967 NFL Championship game), the Tuck-Rule game (2001 AFC Divisional playoffs) and the snowy games that took place during Week 14 of this year (highlighted by the Detroit Lions-Philadelphia Eagles white-out game). During this season’s Wild Card Playoff round, much was made over the excitement of the Indianapolis Colts epic comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a fun game, but it was played in the sanitized atmosphere of a dome. The more memorable game from that weekend, to me anyway, was the San Francisco 49ers win over the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, which was played outside in 5-degree weather that “felt” like -14 degree weather. Cold-weather games are ready-made for NFL Films, the vapor-wreaths from the breaths of the lineman, the wind-burned coaches on the sidelines…just insert a “Voice of God” and the dramatic music, and it’s a wrap.

Super Bowls have been played in less-than-ideal weather before. It was 38 degrees in New Orleans for Super Bowl VI. Super Bowl XXIII in Miami had some mud problems but was considered, at the time, as perhaps the greatest Super Bowl ever. (Joe Montana threw a last-minute touchdown to the lead the 49ers to a 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.) Super Bowl XLI—Peyton Manning’s lone title to date—was played in the rain in Miami. As always in a football game, both teams face the same conditions. The playing field is level.

The NFL, it’s often said, is our national religion, with the Super Bowl celebrated as an unofficial secular holiday. What makes the game so intriguing, to a large degree, is its unpredictability, where coaches and players (and gamblers, for that matter) spend their careers “trying to control the uncontrollable,” as Nicholas Dawidoff wrote in his excellent football book, “Collision Low Crossers.”

Weather, too, is a national obsession for almost the exact same reason: We have no control over it.

This year’s Super Bowl brings these two abiding passions together.

Follow me on Twitter.

My book about former TD Ameritrade CEO-turned-football coach, Joe Moglia: “4th AND GOAL: One Man’s Quest to Recapture His Dream.”

 

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