National Columnist

NFL shouldn't push its luck with more cold-weather Super Bowls

The weather shouldn't be the Super story. (USATSI)
The weather shouldn't be the Super story.(USATSI)

Please somebody, make it stop. The noise, noise, noise coming out of the Northeast from NFL owners clamoring for a Super Bowl in their city after the 48th version of the big game was "tremendously successful," or something, in New Jersey.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft wants a future Super Bowl in his city. Ditto for Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. And Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Enough's enough. The NFL gave the game to New York Jersey as a reward to the Jets and Giants for building a fabulous new stadium with mostly private financing, and also as a test case for games in the Northeast, and the test failed. Typically bad February weather in the area held off until the day after the game, which was lucky for the players on the field and fans in the stadium -- but miserable for thousands of fans the next day when they were stranded at local airports. More than a thousand flights in and out of the New York metropolitan area were canceled Monday, forcing airport officials to set up cots for weary travelers. I got out of LaGuardia on Monday, but I was one of the lucky ones. The unlucky ones? They were asleep under banks of payphones, not enough cots to go around, huddled on the floor underneath Seahawks and Broncos garb.

And this was a Northeast Super Bowl that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called "tremendously successful."

What would "moderately successful" look like?

It's not just the Monday misery that has me wondering why the NFL would even consider having another Super Bowl in such a cold place. In fact, the travel issues home aren't why I'm saying this at all. Those travel issues were real, but that's just me trying to use the plight of real people to tug at your heartstrings. Maybe you don't have heartstrings. Whatever. There are bigger issues here than the thousands of travelers who were screwed by a completely unsurprising weather event in the Northeast in February, though they were screwed. And that does matter. Or should.

The bigger issue is the weather for the game itself. Almost nobody -- not the players, coaches, fans in the stadium -- wants the game played in sub-freezing temperatures or snow or gusts of winds. You know, a typical Sunday in February in New England.

Had winter storm Maximus hit earlier in the week and made a mess of MetLife Stadium for the game -- check out this picture of the stadium on Monday morning, nine hours after the game ended -- the NFL was willing to hitch up its polyester coaches shorts over its ample belly and play the tough-guy card if needed, reminding us that football is a game played in all weather. This isn't baseball, know what I mean? This is football. The NFL is like the USPS, because neither rain nor sleet nor snow ... etc.

That's a nice sentiment, but in the real world, nobody wanted the weather to make a mess of Super Bowl Sunday. That includes Roger Goodell, who happily told the media in the days leading up to the game that the forecast was cooperating. As if that makes the whole thing OK for future games.

The NFL is granting Super Bowl LIII in 2019 to New England because the weather cooperated in 2014 in New Jersey.

Nonsense. The NFL got lucky this time. The players got lucky. The fans at the game, if not at the airport, got lucky. But luck doesn't last, and the weather was one of the dominant storylines of the week, overshadowing much of the pregame talk simply because everyone was so damn nervous. The stress level around Super Bowl XLVIII was palpable throughout the week as teams and the NFL monitored the forecast. And New England wants to put everyone through that again in a few years? The Eagles? The Redskins?

Look, this is big business, not Pee Wee football. Not everyone gets an orange wedge, and not everyone gets a Super Bowl, and if that leaves some cities in the Northeast out of luck, so be it. Don't ask the rest of us to cry for the biggest, richest television markets, the tail that wags the dog not just in the NFL but all sports. If the weather in the Northeast eliminates the area from hosting a Super Bowl, that's OK. Seriously, Roger Goodell, it's OK.

Give Bob Kraft an orange wedge and give the 2019 Super Bowl to a city where the focus can be on football, not the forecast.

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