TELANDER: Super Bowl ‘host’ New Jersey left out of the party
BY RICK TELANDER Sports Columnist February 1, 2014 12:20AM
New York (background) is having all the fun so far ahead of a game that will be played across the river in East Rutherford, N.J. | Charlie Riedel/AP
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:31PM
NEW YORK — Why are the Jets and Giants called the New York Jets and the New York Giants?
I don’t care enough to pursue this, but both teams play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and you normally expect an NFL team to be defined by the place where it plants its flag on Sundays.
So we have this Super Bowl XLVIII taking place in New Jersey, right where the Jets and Giants play, and nobody for a second is even thinking about that sad little state as the real Super Bowl host.
It’s all here in the Apple, baby. All week. The signs, the media headquarters, the big-name parties, the, uh, hookers. (More on that later.)
They give out New Jersey pins in the media lounge at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. I took one and was underwhelmed. I measured the plastic contrivance. It was 3/4 of an inch long and 3/8 of an inch high. A dime has more heft; a baby caterpillar has more panache.
What do you expect from a place that closes bridges for fun, is known for ‘‘The Sopranos’’ and has dysfunctional, endlessly corrupt politics rivaled only by, I’m thinking, Louisiana (read: New Orleans) and Illinois (read: Chicago)?
The NFL headquarters are in Manhattan, and New Jersey is just over, or under, the Hudson River. Yet the NFL won’t even let nearby East Rutherford (pop. 9,000) call the game-day block party it has planned for Sunday a ‘‘Super Bowl party.’’ The new name for the event that will take place on the town’s blocked-off main street? ‘‘The Meadowlands Tailgate Party Live from East Rutherford.’’
Rolls off the tongue. About as much as ‘‘We Over Here Got Screwed by the NFL But It’s OK We Still Got Toxic Waste.’’
◆ NFL commissioner Roger Goodell makes — listen carefully — $30 million a year. Does that strike anyone as obscene?
He is the CEO of — listen carefully — the nonprofit NFL. How this money-gushing entertainment and violence dispenser got to be a nonprofit organization like UNICEF, the American Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity is a fantasy story for another day, to be told by someone other than this reporter, whose cynicism prevents him from even momentarily believing he could shed dispassionate light on such fraudulence.
But there it is.
At his annual Friday-before-the-game state of the league address, this one at Lincoln Center, Goodell appeared calm and confident. He even did some deadpan standup. While fake snow drifted down from the stage roof above him, he said, ‘‘I told you we were going to embrace the weather.’’
Then he responded to questions of all sorts, none of which even remotely ruffled his feathers. I asked him if the attempt by college quarterback Kain Colter and Northwestern players to form a union to deal with the injustices of the NCAA might have an impact on the NFL, since virtually all of its players come from the minor leagues known as D-I football.
‘‘Well, you know, this is recent news,’’ Goodell replied. ‘‘I haven’t really had a chance to think about it as it relates to how this could have an impact on us long term.’’
He added, ‘‘It seems like there is a long road, a lot of decisions, a lot of discussion that has to take place. We will follow that closely.’’
OK, nothing. To be expected, I guess. What benefit does a wealthy king get by speaking about morality or need when it can only cause discomfort in the palace?
◆ There are all kinds of stories at Super Bowls, and here’s one: Eric Studesville, a former Bears assistant coach from 1997 to 2000, is now the running backs coach for the Denver Broncos. Last June, both his parents were killed when the motorcycle they were riding was rammed by a truck on a Texas highway. Studesville still hasn’t overcome the shock, but he is buoyed by all the people who know of his loss and send him messages and prop him up.
‘‘This accomplishment is not about me personally,’’ he said of the Broncos reaching the near-pinnacle. ‘‘This is about being a part of a team. There’s no bittersweet to that at all.’’
But, he adds that he has been holding something back this whole year.
‘‘All the emotions and everything [about his parents’ tragic end] . . . I want to finish this, and then we’ll get to that.’’
◆ All right, back to those prostitutes that have been flooding Manhattan. According to TV reports, some young women will earn up to $50,000 for being with a man for the entire Super Bowl weekend. Sure, the madam or pimp gets a hefty chunk of that, and God knows what else is involved.
But I was just thinking, no reflection or judgment at all, that $50,000 is a lot. Not Goodell money, but a lot.
In fact, it’s $4,000 more than players who lose Super Bowl XLVIII will get. Wrong profession?