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Denver is an outdoor team. Seattle is an outdoor team. The Super Bowl is an outdoor game.
What’s the big deal?
Unless you have a ticket, which you probably don’t, the weather in East Rutherford, N.J., won’t affect you in the slightest on Super Bowl Sunday.
Chances are, it’s not going to have much effect on the Broncos or Seahawks, either. Both teams play in blustery northern outdoor stadiums. And MetLife Stadium is, well, a blustery northern outdoor stadium.
So why all the fuss?
Critics — Mike Ditka among them — have blasted the NFL for staging the Super Bowl, for the first time ever, in a cold-climate outdoor venue. Ditka recently called the idea stupid. And CNN columnist Mike Downey went a step further, insisting the league’s marquee event should never be played outdoors, period.
How, after all, can players put on the best possible show without a roof overhead?
Well, somehow Peyton Manning and the Colts managed to do it on Feb. 4, 2007, when they beat Chicago 29-17 in Super Bowl XLI during a driving rainstorm in Miami. Manning aptly described it as “a monsoon,” an adverse weather event that didn’t lessen the aesthetic aspect a single bit.
If anything, it added to it.
Rain came down in swirling torrents, often sideways in the grip of a relentless wind. Granted, it wasn’t cold in South Florida. But it was wet, dreary and miserable — just the way the game used to be played before the advent of domed stadiums.
What’s more, it had little or no impact on the result.
Clearly, the Colts were better than the Bears. Rain or shine, Rex Grossman was no match for Manning, who completed 25 of 38 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown and earned Super Bowl MVP honors.
Weather? Wasn’t great for drenched fans, but it made things on the field more interesting. To this day, Super Bowl XLI is the only Super Bowl to ever be played in the rain.
And now, Super Bowl XLVIII will make its own bit of weather history, in that it will be the coldest Super Bowl ever played.
Yet it’s doubtful conditions, barring a blizzard or ice storm, will have much bearing on the outcome. The best team will win. Period. Weather, pristine or pitious, will only add a touch of drama.
And maybe some fun.
As long long as you’re not enduring it in the stadium (as yours truly did during the Miami monsoon), what would be wrong with a little snow or sleet? Or even a lot? The forecast doesn’t call for either, but why fret the possibility?
If arctic conditions, or the threat thereof, can blight the big game, then why play it in northern New Jersey in the first place? The site was chosen. Whatever Mother Nature unleashes on the field should only add to the February ambiance of playing outdoors.
All that matters in the end is that we see a good show. And recent Super Bowls have been better than good. With few exceptions, the past several have been exceptional.
This one should be no different.
Manning’s presence alone is an attraction, especially in light of his historic season. But the teams are compelling draws, too.
For only the second time in the past 20 years, two No. 1 seeds are meeting in the Super Bowl. Denver and Seattle both finished the regular-season 13-3, and both clearly demonstrated their dominance in their respective conferences.
These are the NFL’s two best teams. Denver has its best offense. Seattle has its best defense. Manning is its best player. Russell Wilson is arguably its best young player. Everything a fan could want in a Super Bowl, this one offers.
Playing outdoors, in February, in northern New Jersey, doesn’t change that.
It just makes it a good old-fashioned football game.
Rick Morwick is sports editor for the Daily Journal
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