February 10, 2013

Commentary: Start spreadin' the news to the NFL

Frigid weather is the last thing to worry about when it comes to staging the Super Bowl in New Jersey.

By TIM DAHLBERG The Associated Press

Woody Johnson owns the New York Jets, so he's no stranger to making big proclamations. Consider this one, just after the New York area won the bid for the first Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium in a cold weather market.

"I like doing things for the first time," Johnson said. "I hope it snows."

Not quite as bold as guaranteeing his team would be both a host and participant in the game. As dysfunctional as the Jets are, it's hard to imagine they'll still be playing next Feb. 2.

But Johnson could easily get his wish when it comes to the weather, as New Yorkers were reminded this weekend.

Cold, definitely, with snow more than just a random possibility.

It's a scenario that will occupy organizers. There will be volunteers ready to sweep snow from the stadium, portable heaters everywhere, and extra stocks of hot chocolate and schnapps for corporate executives to sip in the stands.

Ultimately, though, it's not something the NFL needs to be terribly worried about.

The league can do no wrong, and that won't change just because the elements will intrude on the next Super Bowl. Might even make it more interesting for the 100 million or so people who will be watching in the comfort of their own living rooms.

The Jets and Giants spent a lot of money to build the new stadium they share, and they wanted a Super Bowl for the New York metropolitan area.

Ultimately that's what drives Super Bowl selection. Owners reward their fellow owners, and five of the last 10 title games have gone to cities that have ponied up for new stadiums.

Giving one to the New York area was always a little dicey, which is why it took four votes by owners a few years back to give the game to the Meadowlands. It came after organizers urged them to "Make Some History" and showed a video that included clips from historic cold-weather games.

Trust the NFL to pull this one off. This is a league, after all, that is so untouchable that a 34-minute power outage in New Orleans not only turned a rout into a competitive game but made TV ratings soar.

And the time it rained at a Super Bowl? You may not remember the game, but probably do remember Prince playing "Purple Rain" as it came down in Miami in 2007.

Nothing can dent the NFL's widespread popularity. Not a lockout, replacement referees or even brain injuries.

Certainly not cold and snow.

Actually, the NFL has some issues to worry about other than the weather. Hotel rooms will surely be in short supply even at exorbitant prices, and transportation for teams, staff, media and volunteers will be a challenge.

There are also a ton of logistical worries that go along with putting the most watched sporting event in America in the most congested area in the country, and not everyone is cooperating. The mayors of at least two towns near MetLife Stadium threatened not to help with municipal services unless the NFL starts writing some checks.

"With one of (the) world's largest sporting events coming to the East Rutherford venue, there is little doubt that the mayors will be expecting a call that their services are needed," Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli said. "The answer will be clear: Don't ask."

So even the NFL can't make everyone happy, no matter what the weather is like.

But let a little cold and snow mess up the first -- and quite possibly only -- Super Bowl in the New York area?

Fuhggedaboutit.

 

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