Obstacles unlikely to keep Big Apple from hosting Big Game

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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The NFL will award the 2014 Super Bowl at next week's owners meetings, but it should skip the vote and cut to the announcement because New York City -- er, New Jersey -- is a virtual certainty to host the game.

I know, it's everything Super Bowl sites are not supposed to be -- a cold-weather city without a domed stadium -- but that doesn't matter. This does: The NFL, its commissioner and influential team owners are in favor of it. So start spreading the news.

Could Eli Manning and/or Mark Sanchez play a Super Bowl in their new home in 2014? (Getty Images)  
Could Eli Manning and/or Mark Sanchez play a Super Bowl in their new home in 2014? (Getty Images)  
Look, I know nothing is official until votes are collected, but look what New York is up against -- namely, Tampa, Fla., and South Florida. Tampa had the Super Bowl last year. South Florida had it this year and in 2007. That's three of the past four Super Bowls in Florida, and, sorry, it's time for a change, which means someone else has better than a sporting chance.

With Arizona withdrawing its bid, that someone is New York City.

"You've got the best city in the world," said Jets coach Rex Ryan, hardly an impartial observer. "Why wouldn't you want to host the Super Bowl there?"

Well, let me start with the weather. The average temperature for February in the New York metropolitan area is 34 degrees, or just above freezing, which is OK if you have a domed stadium. But the Giants and Jets don't, and that's a potential land mine.

Look what happened in and around Washington, D.C., this year on Super Bowl weekend: The area was paralyzed by over 30 inches of snow, with hundreds of thousands of homes losing power, flights grounded, trees toppled, stores closed and mass transportation shut down. A problem? More like a disaster.

Several days later, Dallas -- the host of Super Bowl XLV in February 2011 -- was covered by 12½ inches of snow. You can imagine the consequences. So yeah, snow can be a problem.

But what about, oh, I don't know, ice? Please don't ask. That is a Super Bowl host committee's worst fear. Ask anyone in Atlanta associated with Super Bowl XXXIV. Once people got through raving the wonderful game -- with the Rams' Mike Jones stopping Tennessee's Kevin Dyson two feet short of a game-tying touchdown -- they ranted about the weather, and you would, too, if you had to spend the weekend there.

It was miserable, with ice closing highways and making transportation treacherous, if not damn near impossible.

Of course, weather is not an issue once you're inside the Dallas or Atlanta stadiums because they have closed roofs. The Giants' and Jets' new $1.7 billion stadium does not, and you bet that's a concern. Like it or not, there is no escaping the elements, and if you think that's OK talk to anyone who sat through the downpour at Super Bowl XLI in Miami. They were as miserable as the Chicago passing game.

Only this time it's not just rain that could be a factor. It's snow. It's wind. It's sub-freezing temperatures. Basically, it's everything that keeps all but the U.S. Postal Service indoors in February in the Northeast. Weather can affect the teams. It can affect the fans. And it can affect what the NFL likes to call "the experience." If the NFL is looking for a halftime act, let me suggest Earth, Wind and Snow.

Nevertheless, I can't imagine that dismaying voters next week because the people who count in the NFL are behind this project. I'll start with commissioner Roger Goodell, who from the outset dropped enough hints to tell you where he would like the game played, and here's a clue: It's across the river from the city where he works. After telling an audience at this year's Super Bowl that he "has to remain neutral on many issues," Goodell all but made an exception for New Jersey's Super Bowl bid.

"I think there would be real benefits to the league considering this as an option," he said. "I think the idea of playing in the elements is central to the way the game of football is played. I think being able to do that and celebrate the game of football in the No. 1 market could have tremendous benefits to the league going forward."

Trust me, that message resonated with owners, and never, ever underestimate the power of the commissioner's words. I learned that lesson at the March owners' meetings when Goodell supported changing the overtime rule despite reservations from many of the league's coaches. When the idea initially appeared stalled, one NFC coach I trust pulled me aside and predicted it would pass for one very important reason -- Goodell wanted it. And he was right. When coaches left the building, Goodell moved to take a vote and the new rule was adopted.

Fan Poll

Where should the Super Bowl be played in February 2014?

New Jersey
45%
Tampa Fla.
27%
South Florida
28%

Total Votes: 13,303

My guess is that a similar thing happens here. When powerful and persuasive owners like Atlanta's Arthur Blank, Denver's Pat Bowlen and New England's Robert Kraft like the idea of a Super Bowl in the New York metropolitan area, it has a chance to fly. Bowlen and, say, someone like Washington owner Daniel Snyder know that if it can happen here it can happen anywhere, and connect the dots, people. If the Giants and Jets can host a Super Bowl without a domed stadium, maybe they can, too.

Once that was supposed to be a problem for cold-weather sites. Now it's not, and it's not because the NFL waived a 50-degree rule to make New York the exception. But if "playing in the elements is central to the way the game of football is played," an idea I completely support, why hasn't the NFL been holding Super Bowls in places like Buffalo and Chicago and New England the past four decades? The reason is because it wants the best experience for its players and its fans, and, sorry, holding a game in freezing rain or a blinding blizzard or 10-degree temperatures is not an experience most players or fans like.

"Some pretty historic games," protested the Jets' Ryan. "The Ice Bowl. I'm not saying the weather will be like that, but everybody remembers it, so I think that's a great thing."

Easy for him to say. He didn't have to sit in the minus-13 temperatures or play on an afternoon where the wind chill was measured at 48 below zero. It was so bitterly cold that the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse marching band that was scheduled to perform before the game and during halftime had to cancel because the woodwinds froze in warmups, the mouthpieces of brass instruments stuck to players' lips and seven band members were transported to local hospitals to be treated for hypothermia.

Maybe little town blues melt away in New York, but February snowfalls? Not so fast.

"We've got the best city in the world," said Ryan. "I think that's indisputable. We've got arguably one of the top stadiums in the league, a brand new stadium. It helps two teams. I don't see how it's not played here. The weather ... if your team is not built to play in those conditions, that's too bad. I'd just as soon play all those games up north.

"It just so happens that we've had some indoor games and there are some teams that play in a dome. And [we have] outdoor teams. It's just the way it is. This game should be played here."

Relax, Rex. Barring an upset, it will be.

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