JERSEY CITY, N.J. — An icy wind made its way through the Meadowlands, cut across the Hudson River and into frigid Manhattan. Looks like Mother Nature is taking seriously the NFL’s slogan for the upcoming Super Bowl: Best Served Cold.
One week before kickoff, on the day the Broncos and Seahawks are arriving in the frozen Big Apple, Sunday brought a bit of a thaw. Temperatures actually reached the low 20s.
Not that the guys who will take the field at MetLife Stadium have any complaints or concerns. They’d play this one on the New Jersey tundra or in Death Valley.
“Absolutely,” Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “We’ve been talking about that, our leadership group, that’s something that’s key for everybody. Enjoy the moment of New York, be there, enjoy the Super Bowl, but we are there for a purpose, and that’s winning a football game. I think everybody understands that.”
What they also understand is that the upcoming week is unlike anything else they experienced during the season. Or during any season.
More media, for sure. A glaring spotlight on everything. Spending a week away from home. Practicing in another team’s facility: the Seahawks at the Giants’ complex across the parking lots from MetLife Stadium, the Broncos at the Jets’ place in Florham Park, about 30 minutes from the Meadowlands.
“I mean obviously it’s the biggest game that we’ve ever played in,” Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said. “It’s one of the games that we’ve been dreaming about playing in it since we were 6 years old on little league fields. The distraction of the hype that surrounds it, it’s definitely real.
“But, that distraction is something that we have to try and eliminate. It’s going to be difficult. But in order for us execute as well as we want to, we have to eliminate that distraction.”
Not one Seahawks player has been this far, giving Denver something of an edge in experience. The Broncos have four: receiver Wes Welker, tight end Jacob Tamme, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and some quarterback named Peyton.
Manning, of course, is the only current Bronco to have won a ring, with Indianapolis in 2007. He also lost the Super Bowl in 2010 with the Colts.
“I think the biggest thing he’s said is eliminate distractions, making sure you’re taking care of the little details, doing extra, watching film, working out, getting your body right,” receiver Eric Decker said.
“And then I think the biggest thing is he says he’s won one, he’s lost one. And it’s a complete high; it’s a complete low. So, really understand to give everything you’ve got because this is the last game of the year.”
And it’s the first Super Bowl ever played outdoors in a cold-weather city. There’s snow on the ground, frost in the air, and plenty of forecasts for what might be ahead next Sunday.
The only truly accurate forecast, though, was delivered by Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.
“I don’t care where we play,” he said. “I know when we play, all the feelings and the stuff I need to get ready and prepare. It’ll be there.”