Super Bowl in New Jersey is super bad idea
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist January 26, 2014 10:34PM
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Updated: February 28, 2014 6:27AM
The sports world is full of bad ideas, some worse than others.
The shorts the White Sox wore in 1976 come immediately to mind, and I wish they wouldn’t.
The Cubs’ decision to enter into a contract with the rooftop owners has been disastrous on so many levels that it’s difficult to understand how a team could be so shortsighted. Now the conflict appears headed to court, which will produce more strife and more billable hours.
Choosing Sochi, Russia, for an Olympics is very high on the bad-idea list. What says ‘‘winter fun’’ more than a repressive society and the threat of terrorist attacks from a volatile region nearby? Russian officials are concerned that ‘‘black widows,’’ suicide bombers sent to avenge the deaths of their Islamic militant husbands, might have infiltrated Sochi. One of the women is described as having a 4-inch scar on her cheek, a limp and a left arm that doesn’t bend at the elbow. As I’ve told my friends, if you see me with her in Sochi, don’t cramp my style.
But the most immediate bad idea, the one that is staring at us through a ski mask, is Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey. The game will be played outdoors and in the elements Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The forecast calls for a high of 32, a low of 23 and no snow.
If the forecast takes a turn for the worse, the NFL has contingency plans that include the possibility of changing the start time or even moving the game to another day.
East Rutherford, N.J., the home of MetLife Stadium, had to shovel out from under 13 inches of snow that fell Tuesday.
I ask you: Does playing a game there make any sense?
How New Jersey got a Super Bowl is actually quite simple. The Giants and Jets built a new stadium with private funds. That’s it. That’s how it works in the NFL. The league dangles a carrot, usually to get politicians to find public money: Erect a new
stadium to replace the old one, and you might get a Super Bowl and all the tourism money that comes with hosting the event.
MetLife opened in 2010. Now here we are, less than a week from the Super Bowl, unable to feel our toes.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed to get the Super Bowl in Chicago, but hopefully thawed heads will prevail. The forecast for Monday in our ice cap of a city calls for a high of minus-6 and a low of minus-20. Can you imagine if the big game were played in Soldier Field under those conditions?
Football is meant to be played in the elements; we know this. But the Super Bowl is a different animal. It is pomp and circumstance, TV commercials and cities where 70-degree temperatures are more than just a rumor.
Sunscreen is supposed to be involved. That’s not just my opinion. The NFL’s requirements for a Super Bowl are either that the host city’s average February temperature be at least 50 degrees or that the game be played in a domed stadium. Commissioner Roger Goodell waived the rules so that New Jersey/New York could get the big game. Money talks.
Goodell has said he’ll watch the game outdoors in the stands. If he’s found looking like an ice sculpture in his seat afterward, that would be all right.
It’s true the Broncos and Seahawks will be playing in the same conditions Sunday, but that’s hardly a rousing endorsement for having the game in a cold-weather city. It’s simply a fact — and not a pleasant one. The idea of the Super Bowl is for the two best teams in football to play in ideal conditions to decide a champion. How bad footing or an inability to grip a football could be considered a good thing is hard to fathom.
Thanks to improvements in technology, watching NFL games on TV is much more enjoyable than watching them inside a stadium. Watching a Super Bowl in the cold, after you’ve spent $3,500 for a ticket, sounds like being on the losing end of a bet. Lest there be any doubt about what fans are up against, the NFL will be handing out earmuffs, hats, scarves and mittens at the stadium.
It will take an act of God to bring sun and warmth to the game in New Jersey. But I’m guessing He’ll be staying indoors, too.