Roger Goodell must have made a deal with the devil.
After years—I mean years—of concern about the first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city being socked with disastrous conditions, the temperature for kickoff on Sunday was downright balmy.
Players warmed up in shorts. Some fans didn't even bother bringing winter coats. The media actually complained the auxiliary press box was too hot for them, because the NFL put in so many heat lamps to account for the cold that the place turned into an incubator when the temperatures ended up being so mild.
It rained a little bit in the second half, which was a friendly reminder that conditions could have been worse, but all things considered—and the NFL certainly considered all things, including the potential of moving the Super Bowl to another day this week if the weather was too bad to play the game on Sunday—the day was perfect.
It was perfect weather for a Super Bowl. And now the devil surely owns our football-viewing souls. (Note: that may have happened years ago. The soul thing. We probably lost our souls a long time ago and didn't even notice. But go with it, because there's really no other explanation for how the weather in an entire region changed for just one day.)
Most of us spent the last five days lambasting the farmers after their almanac prediction suggested a snowy Super Bowl, creating a prolonged and palpable sense of panic and unrest among the media covering the event. (Note: I never trusted the farmers. I was always more of a Poor Richard's Almanac man myself.)
You were wrong, farmers. Dead wrong. By…eight hours.
Wow, they really were pretty close. Close doesn't do it justice. The farmers were almost exactly right on a Super Bowl snowstorm.
But it didn't snow. It was 50 degrees on Sunday. When I went up to Newark for Media Day on Tuesday, it was single digits, with a wind chill that made it feel like five below zero. On Monday, schools are closed throughout New Jersey as we prepare for another blast of snow that has socked the region this winter.
It was 50 degrees on Sunday.
This will be our fourth snowstorm this winter, and accumulations in New Jersey have already broken records, with much of the actual snowy season still to come. It might be the fifth storm, as I've lost count by this point, and I'm not even including a spat of black ice in January that would have crippled the entire region had it come during Super Bowl week. You thought NJ Transit was bad on Sunday? Imagine if there was black ice on the tracks.
The Monday snowstorm is going to drop between three and eight inches on the area—East Rutherford, N.J. is forecast to get five to eight inches Monday with snow already accumulating as early as 5 a.m.—making a trip back out of town a disaster for people who flew in for the game.
Oh, and they better hope they don't get stuck here for more than a day or two, because there was talk that we could get 30 inches of snow later this week. That was just a long-range rumor, so it probably won't happen. Someone should probably check with the farmers.
The NFL was literally a few hours away from a logistical weather disaster, but wow, conditions sure looked great on Sunday. Go ahead, then, and tell me Goodell didn't make a deal with the devil.
Tell me he won't do it again.
Many media types believe the NFL gave New York a one-time-only call to host the Super Bowl and the game will go back to more traditional stadia with the ability to close a roof, or a location in a city where temperatures in February aren't usually in the single digits.
I quite enjoyed the chaos of the potential for a weather event during the Super Bowl. Having the game in New York added something different to the week we wouldn't have seen if it was back in Miami or San Diego for another game. Those cities are perfect Super Bowl cities—warm, fun, beautiful—but it was good to mix things up and remind people that football can be played in the elements, even for a game as important as the Super Bowl.
It's just that the elements came eight hours late, and now people (like Darren Rovell above) think the NFL won't tempt fate again. Personally, I believe it will be a while before another cold-weather city gets an outdoor game—sorry, New England, Philly, Buffalo or Cleveland—unless the league enjoyed the process in New York so much it puts that city in the regular rotation for selection, giving the region a title game every 10 years.
Or perhaps the NFL can extend its deal with the devil and realize that where it put the game probably doesn't matter anymore. There was ice and snow in Dallas a few years ago. Minneapolis has hosted the game in snowy conditions. Heck, Atlanta was sacked by a few inches of snow and ice just this week. That city has hosted multiple Super Bowls before.
But those games were indoors, media detractors have always said, like that actually matters. The only people truly impacted by inclement weather are the fans and the media who attend the game. If it's cold or rainy or snowy, it's very hard for writers situated outside in an auxiliary press box to work, even with the super-hot lamps keeping them toasty.
Nobody wants to schlep across a river—even with a police escort—to Newark in 5-degree weather to have Media Day in a basketball arena because it's too cold to hold it at the football stadium. That's who hates bad weather: the media.
Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl in a downpour in Miami and lost two in pristine football conditions. There was a Super Bowl in Detroit—Detroit—nine years ago. Detroit averages a full inch more snow in the month of February than New York. But that stadium had a roof, so the game itself was the only thing different, and nobody complained nearly as much as they did this year.
Everything during the week leading up to the game was potentially the same, other than the four hours from kickoff through the trophy presentation, yet the weather was an enormous story for days, weeks, months and even years.
You think the NFL is going to pass up that kind of buzz?
The bitching and moaning about the chance for bad weather was never—repeat: never—about the quality of football. Those in the media just didn't want to be cold. That would be the only reason why the NFL may not try this experiment again any time soon. The league was able to strong-arm the selection committee into picking New York off the emotions of post-9/11 America. This was special, but the next one won't be. It will just be cold.
Or it will be 50 and pleasant. I guess it depends on how many deals Goodell has left with the devil.