With the big news coming out of the NFL meetings in Dallas about the awarding of the 2014 Super Bowl to New York (or is it New Jersey or New York/New Jersey or New Jersey/New York?), let’s look at what this significant event means and, more important, what it doesn’t mean:
Not about the cold
There has been, and will continue to be, great lore about “playing in the elements” and the possibility of having the most important game of the year in football played in the cold and/or sleet and/or snow. We will hear incessant forecasts for the first week of February in New York. And the question about Super Bowls at other cold sites will be raised.
Pay no attention. This is not about playing a game in the elements of the cold and the potential beauty of falling snow during the game. If that were the case, places like Green Bay and Buffalo would be in the mix for a Super Bowl.
This is about New York. The fact that the stadium is located in New Jersey is a minor detail; it’s not about New Jersey.
It’s about 9/11. It is about the biggest and single most powerful city in the country hosting the biggest and single most powerful sporting event in the country. It’s about the NFL flexing its muscles with its highest-profile event in the highest-profile location. It’s about Sinatra, Jay-Z and more New York-themed songs to come.
The potential for cold and bad weather is an asterisk to the event. It’s all about New York, New York.
An event, with football
This is true of any Super Bowl. With the overtime debate about whether to have different rules during the season as opposed to the postseason now tabled, we accept that about the Super Bowl.
Teams play all season to have home-field advantage in the playoffs, or at least the playoffs through the conference championship games. The Super Bowl is not a contest with home-field advantage in play; it’s an event with the world watching.
I have always found it interesting that two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, the final four teams may be playing “in the elements” for the right to participate in a game played in a dome or in warm weather. I was involved in the starkest example of this during my last game with the Packers.
In nine years living in Green Bay, the two most popular responses from people when I told them where I lived were: Do you know Brett Favre?, and Brrr! (Yes and yes).
When hosting the Giants for the NFC Championship on Jan. 20, 2008, the conditions – to put it kindly – were brutal. The temperature at game time was minus-one, with a wind-chill factor of minus-23. It was the second-coldest game in Packers history, second only to the 1967 Ice Bowl and its minus-13 (I’ve met many of the 500,000 or so fans who claimed to been there).
Earlier that day, the Patriots advanced to the game while playing in 20-degree weather in New England. The week before, the Packers’ playoff game against the Seahawks was in a snowstorm made for television. The NFL would take that snow globe atmosphere in a, well, New York minute.
The Patriots and Giants advanced in frosty conditions to advance to the Super Bowl in…Arizona. The dichotomy of playing two of the most important games of the year in frigid conditions, then playing the most important game on a field in Arizona with no home field advantage, was remarkable.
So now it’s on for New York. The football and the elements are nice, but this game is a chance for the NFL to attract the casual and non-fans and bring their buying power and commitment to the game (and hopefully more games) with them. Football has us committed fans. The league is after the rest of the country, and New York will help with that.
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