Starkey: Snow at the Super Bowl? Noooooo!
It's party time when the NHL plays outdoors, but the NFL is crazy for trying it?
Is that how this works?
The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs will hook up New Year's Day at Michigan Stadium (a football stadium) for the Winter Classic, and everybody seems to be excited about it. As well they should be.
I saw a hockey game in the snow — Penguins-Sabres at a football stadium in Buffalo — and it ranks among the top five events I've covered.
I've also seen lots of football games in the snow. I like them best that way. They make for fantastic television. But the instant the NFL announced that Super Bowl XLVIII would be played Feb. 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, people started freaking out.
What if it snows?
The possibility of such has become a national obsession.
AccuWeather, which bills itself “The World's Weather Authority” and is headquartered in State College (where it sometimes snows during football games), has constructed a website dedicated to predicting the weather for Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J.
Seriously. It's called willitsnow.com. Its front page has a ticker counting the seconds to Super Sunday, next to a headline that reads “Will it Snow on Feb. 2?”
Since weather people are so reliable, AccuWeather was kind enough to feature four of them hazarding “forecasts” for Feb. 2 in East Rutherford.
One of them, a man named Henry Margusity, wrote the following: “Long-range models remain consistent that a cold front goes through Feb. 1, and behind the front, it's just chilly with a flurry maybe.”
That inspired me to find a meteorologist with some punch: Jon Burnett, KDKA-TV's weekend weather person and former backup defensive end at the University of Tennessee.
Two questions, Jon:
1. Can anybody reasonably predict the weather 40 days away?
Jon: “No. It's completely insane. Like doing brain surgery with your eyes closed.”
2. Do you like the idea of a Super Bowl in the snow?
Jon: “Oh, of course. Some of the great games of all time have been snow games.”
Nothing is worse than climate-controlled football, unless it's climate-controlled baseball. Both are un-American.
So when people rave about, say, the recent SEC title game, I become visibly angry. That was sanitized football at its worst. Auburn and Missouri played on the Georgia Dome's indoor carpeting and combined for 1,211 yards, 99 points and zero grass-stained jerseys.
Is that really what people want? Video-game football?
I tend to associate the sport with the outdoors. Wind. Rain. Sun. Snow. Whatever Mother Nature whips up.
I think of the Steelers beginning their march to Super Bowl XL by pounding the Bears at snowy, muddy Heinz Field, or Cincinnati edging Pitt, 45-44, in an epic battle waged under a light snow that fell like ticker tape.
Near as I can tell, the two arguments against playing the Super Bowl in a place like New Jersey are the possibility bad weather will prevent the “best game possible” and that it's not fair to the paying customers.
The first charge is ridiculous. Refer to Dec. 8, when wintry mixes failed to keep several early NFL games from exploding into the point festivals that so many fans crave. The Philadelphia Eagles scored 28 fourth-quarter points in a blizzard.
Just three days ago, the Steelers and Packers turned a frozen field into a glorious stage for one of the more entertaining games you'll see.
As for the paying customers, who cares? Bring your mittens, kids. Fans at Super Bowl XLI sat through an all-night rain in Miami. Fans at the 1948 NFL title game in Philadelphia brought their own shovels to dig out of a storm. Life stinks.
The NFL, in an effort to assuage fears, mapped out its snow contingency plans last week in New Jersey. It even rolled out a snow-melting machine called “Aero,” which apparently can melt 600 tons of snow in an hour — you know, in case a scene from “The Day After Tomorrow” breaks out. The league claims it is willing to move the Super Bowl to Saturday, Monday or Tuesday.
Please. As Giants quarterback Eli Manning said, “Just go play it.”
I hope it snows like crazy.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.