If recent conditions are any indication, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., may harbor some inclement weather for Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos.
Yes, Mother Nature has laid down the hammer with cold temperatures and heavy snowfall. The Super Bowl's official Twitter feed captured the current state of affairs at MetLife Stadium on Tuesday, Jan. 21:
The battle for the Lombardi Trophy figures to be an epic matchup between the Seahawks' No. 1 defense and the Broncos' top-ranked offense on Sunday, Feb. 2. However, weather such as this threatens to diminish the quality of the NFL's grand finale.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman lives close by and hopes similar conditions don't rear their head on Super Bowl Sunday:
Super Bowl and weather: I live ten miles from MetLife--snow storm coming, 2,000 flights canceled, roads in area already nasty.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 21, 2014
Supposed to get maybe a foot of snow here. That's the bad news. Good news: won't get another bad storm for Super Bowl, will we? WILL WE???— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 21, 2014
As of 11:25 p.m. EST, the forecast on Weather.com shows 12-degree temperatures, a minus-four-degree wind chill and winds in excess of 20 mph.
According to Keith Sargent of USA Today, the NFL and New York City are contemplating changing the date and time of the game to avoid nasty weather that could come down on Super Bowl Sunday:
NFL officials on Wednesday conceded that contingency plans call for the championship game to be played at any point between Friday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb. 3 at MetLife Stadium.
The good news is Eric Grubman, the NFL's vice president for business operations, said if the kind of storm that dumped more than a foot of snow on most of New Jersey on Tuesday is forecasted for Super Bowl Sunday, the game would likely go off at its scheduled kickoff time of 6:30 p.m.
In other words, it would take an even bigger storm to alter the kickoff time for the first cold-weather Super Bowl played at an outdoor venue.
"What goes into whether deciding to (move) it, first of all, is public safety," Grubman said Wednesday in a news conference at MetLife Stadium, where thousands of workers removed snow from the bleachers and field. "Unless it was a state of emergency which affected public resources in a way that made it impossible to get the resources here, or any kind of declaration by any of the authorities from the states involved that made it difficult to travel safety to and from the stadium, we would absolutely respect that."
Regardless of when the game is played, whether it takes place on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, odds are good it will be the coldest Super Bowl ever played. Doyle Rice of USA Today explains:
The average high temperature on Feb. 2 in northern New Jersey is 40 degrees, and the average low is 25, according to David Robinson, state climatologist of New Jersey and a professor of geography at Rutgers University. At 6:30 p.m. — kickoff time — the average temperature is usually about 34 degrees, he says.
“The coldest-ever Super Bowl was 39 degrees in New Orleans in 1972,” says meteorologist Eric Holthaus of the online news site Quartz, “so I think we have a really good shot at beating that. I wouldn’t say it’s a lock yet, but we should have a good idea in a few days.”
ESPN's Skip Bayless noted how arduous the weather was during the height of Tuesday's storm, along with his implicit criticism:
NFL lucky the Super Bowl isn't tonight. Heavy snow in NY area. Low 10 degrees. Winds up to 40 mph. Football weather?— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) January 21, 2014
Fox Sports vice president of production Jacob Ullman tweeted this picture inside of the stadium, giving an idea of what the players might be facing in fighting for pro football's ultimate prize:
Today at MetLife Stadium. Looks perfect for a Super Bowl! pic.twitter.com/W4vNVQiVys— Jacob Ullman (@jacobu) January 21, 2014
Putting arguably the biggest game in American sports to the test in the elements is a bold move by the league. It might be too ambitious, though, and it could create a memorable but perhaps miserable experience for fans in attendance.
MetLife Stadium is where the New York Giants play their home games, so it's not much of a surprise that prominent Twitter user and Giants punter Steve Weatherford chimed in as he surveyed the scene:
Bundling up to take in the sensational spectacle will no doubt be necessary.
This is a vast departure from the warm-weather or domed venues the league typically selects to host this monumental game.
Although it's too early to throw out conjecture as to what the field may look like on game day, this can't be what the NFL or its current conference champions want to see.