Sitting in an open air stadium at night in New Jersey in February can be comparable to climbing atop a snow cap in the Arctic Circle to watch penguins search for food.
If a person finds it exciting to slowly lose feeling in their toes or fingers, it can be a valuable lesson in how much torture the human body can withstand.
So here we have the backdrop for the 2014 Super Bowl, which the owners awarded to the new $1.6 billion Meadowlands on Tuesday. Tampa and Miami were in the running, but the majority of NFL owners decided it would be better to dodge snowballs and test your manhood in freezing temperatures that walk along boring beaches.
Tony Dungy, a man of respect and dignity who rarely points a negative finger at anyone, couldn’t hold back on this one when he was in the area last Friday to be honored at the Dick Vitale Gala.
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“I thought there was a rule that you had to have a certain average temperature or a dome to host a Super Bowl, and now all of a sudden we’ve said that used to be the rule and it doesn’t matter anymore,” Dungy said. “There was a reason for the rule. Everyone wants to have good conditions when you play that last game, and there is no guarantee you will have it in New York that time of year.”
Dungy, like everyone else who followed events leading up to the vote, knew the Big Apple was going to become Apple Pie Ala-Frozen in 2014.
“It’s New York,” was his simple, to-the-point explanation of why owners deviated from the norm. The selection in part was to help pay the bills on the new stadium co-owned by the Giants and Jets that is being built in the Meadowlands.
“I understand New York has a new beautiful stadium, and New York would be a great place to have a Super Bowl from a media interest standpoint,” Dungy said. “But if I was coaching, you would certainly want the best conditions that you could have and you don’t know if you are going to get that in February in New York.”
The new Meadowlands Stadium is actually located in East Rutherford, N.J., just a hop, skip and jump from New York City.
This will be the first Super Bowl held in a cold weather stadium up north that does not have a dome. The last NFL championship game played in the New York metropolitan area was in 1962 when Vince Lombardi’s Packers beat the Giants 16-7 at Yankee Stadium before 64,000 fans.
But it’s been more than four decades since an NFL championship game was held outdoors in a cold weather city, and Dungy notes that is not a coincidence. The game has also changed with much more emphasis placed on passing, which could be problematic because of the February winds that are common in the New York metropolitan area.
“For 43 years we didn’t do it, and there was a reason,” Dungy said. “Everyone wants to have good conditions when you play that last game. I’ve been at the Meadowlands at bad times, and it’s part of the game when you go there, but I don’t know if it’s right to do it based on the rules we had in place.”
The rules say an outdoor stadium must be in a city that averages at least 50 degrees that time of year. It was waived for 2014, but some are saying this waiver might become permanent. If so, it might be a long time before Tampa plays host to another Super Bowl.
On the other hand, a frigid game where the field could be covered by slosh or snow might put an end to all this bravado. Let us not forget those historic frozen games going back to the 1960’s were played in the daytime.
According to weather experts, in the past 44 years, 54 percent of the February days in East Rutherford, N.J., were windy or had a sustained wind speed of at least 15 mph. They say a normal game time temperature would be in the 30s at kickoff with winds at 10-20 mph, but it would be unlikely for actual conditions to match the norm, and most likely they would be lower.
The coldest NFL game on record is the 1967 championship game between Green Bay and Dallas known as the “Ice Bowl,” which had a game time temperature of minus-13 degrees.
Any way you cut it, sitting in the stands under those conditions is not something most people enjoy unless they were born and raised on the North Pole — or they’re a Packers fan.