For one year, at least, the champs will have to come out and play
Pro football, for the most part, has legislated weather out of the game
Indy and New Orleans reached Super Bowl XLIV via all indoor playoff games
A New York Super Bowl offers a chance for the elements to come into play
Yes, I am on record saying that every Super Bowl should be in New Orleans. Well ... I love New Orleans Super Bowls. There's something about the city, the people, the history that makes a Super Bowl there feel even bigger than normal. Of course, I'm all for keeping things the same. I think every U.S. Open should be at Pebble Beach, every British Open at St. Andrews, every football "National Championship" game at the Rose Bowl and every Final Four in Indianapolis.
In the end, obviously, none of that is going to happen.
So, if they're going to move the Super Bowl around, well, I could not be happier that they are finally going to play it in New York in 2014 (well, East Rutherford, N.J., technically). I have never really appreciated the arguments against playing the game in New York. I have never liked the fact they would play the thing in Detroit or Jacksonville or Houston, but not New York or Chicago or Washington.
Basically here is the thing I haven't liked: Pro football, for the most part, has lost the weather. And that's terrible. I'm not saying football is a cold-weather sport ... I'm saying it's an all-weather sport. And they have more or less legislated snow and rain and ice and mud out of the game. Oh, it's still there in places -- in Green Bay and Chicago and Boston and Kansas City and so on -- but these days it's not just possible but quite likely that at least one team will make it to the Super Bowl without facing the weather at all. Last year, Indianapolis and New Orleans made it to the Super Bowl without playing outdoors once in the playoffs ... and then they played the game itself in a Miami suburb.
A year earlier, Arizona made it to the Super Bowl in a playoff run that included one outdoor game -- in Charlotte.
There have been dome teams in four of the last five Super Bowls, and while I have no qualms with domes, it sure would be nice to see those teams tested at least once outdoors, in the snow, in the mud, in whatever weather happens to come up.
This is because I think weather is a big part of football. Not just cold weather. Hot weather too. Muggy weather. Windy weather. All weather. To me, weather is one of the main things that separates it from our other major sports. Hockey and basketball are indoors, in controlled environments. Baseball is not built for extreme weather, and when it gets played in the snow, it feels like a farce. The strange thing is that baseball games are being played later and later in the year, bringing in more and more inclement weather. That's the screwy way of our sports world. While baseball is being played more in the snow, football is being played less.
The Super Bowl is always played in either warm weather or in the cozy air-conditioned comfort of domes, and I always figured that this was more for the fans. The Super Bowl is obviously America's biggest sporting event, and the tickets cost a ridiculous amount of money, and you probably don't want someone who spent thousands of dollars, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, to have to shiver in the wind and be soaked through and miserable the whole game long. I can understand that.
But, that's a business thing. And, I don't know business. From a sporting side, I've always thought that a cold-weather Super Bowl now and again makes a lot of sense. You have to love Bill Cowher's classic line: "Yeah, I'd like 75 degrees and sunny all the time, too, but that's not football." It's not. Football, like life, has sunny days, but also involves storms and mud and times when you can't stop shivering. Football, like life, involves unfair bounces and sudden bursts of wind and trying to catch wobbly passes with frostbitten fingers. Football, like life, brings out those days when you look out your window and wish you could just stay in bed. Football is 34-27. It's also 7-6.
The Super Bowl has been about the sunny side of football. The NFL has done an amazing job of turning the Super Bowl into a glamour game, an American holiday, with stars and glitz and hype and blue skies and fireworks. It has turned the game into to a place to be seen, a supermodel playpen, an Oceans 11 remake.
And that's OK, but it's just not the whole story. Now the NFL is bringing a little bit of football back into the event. A little bit of football fate. Look, in early February 2014 it's not unlikely that it will be 54 degrees and clear in New York, making it just about the perfect day for football. But there's also a chance for snow, for ice, for howling wind, for the elements to take a hand at the table. To me, that makes it a better game, not worse. That makes it more fun, not less.
I hope that the Super Bowl in New York is a gigantic success and the NFL is willing to take the game to other great football cities with cold weather. Whether or not they are willing to expose the fans to the elements ... well, that's the NFL's decision. But as far as the players go, yeah, I say you should make them play. I'd be all for a game in Denver, in Chicago, in Philadelphia, in Kansas City.
You might remember that for a long, long time no dome team had ever won a Super Bowl -- the Rams were the first in 1999, and since then the Colts (2006) and Saints (last year) have followed. Anyway, no dome team won for a long time and I remember asking Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt why that was. And he said: "Because sooner or later, you have to come out and play." I've always loved that line, but lately it hasn't really been accurate. In the last few years, you could win a Super Bowl without ever really facing the elements. That's a part of life now, a part of the game, and I get that. There are more domes now than ever. There are more warm-weather cities now than ever. Pro football has created its own bit of global warming.
And that's fine. But it's great that at least for one year, yes, if you want to be the best team in the NFL, you will have to come out and play.