Still Hard To Warm Up To The Idea Of New York Super Bowl
By Steven King
The members of the NFL’s top administration have apparently caught a break.
It appears that Sunday’s Super Bowl will be played in decent weather.
No ice storm.
No John Facenda of NFL films talking about the frozen tundra.
No brutally cold winds knocking down punts, passes and field goals with ease.
The Big Apple will not have icicles on it at kickoff.
So the top brass can pat itself on the back.
Good for those people.
But that’s not the point.
They just got lucky, that’s all. As powerful as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is, he doesn’t control Mother Nature. A woman – Mother Nature – does that. I know, women control everything – in and out of sports. Face it, guys.
The basis of what Goodell and his deep thinkers thought was wrong – is wrong -- in every way, shape and form, and they are too proud, too condescending or, worse yet, too ignorant, to admit it.
A history lesson for those who think a Hula Hoop is what they give to the members of the winning team in the Hula Bowl: When the Super Bowl – er, excuse me, the NFL-AFL World Championship Game – was conceived, one of the main premises was putting it at a site where weather would not be a factor. That was somewhere with warm weather year round. There weren’t domes then – only the Astrodome, but with just a 50,000-seat capacity, it was way too small to ever host the game – so it had to be Los Angeles or Miami or New Orleans. These were the days before the Superdome was built.
That made sense. The NFL had had enough championship games in places like New York, Green Bay, Cleveland and Chicago in which weather was almost as much as of a story as the players themselves, or maybe even more so.
From 1962-65, and then again from 1967-69, the NFL (NFC) Championship Game was played in cold, snowy, windy and/or wet conditions.
Did the better team win in every instance? Maybe, but maybe not. We’ll never know that, will we?
In 1962 at Yankee Stadium when the Packers out-slid the Giants 16-7 on a frozen turf, the wind was so strong that New York QB Y.A. Tittle almost had a pass blown back into his face. In 1963, when the Bears beat the Giants 14-10 at Soldier Field, it was miserably cold.
It was also terribly cold – and snowy – at Cleveland Stadium in 1964 when the Browns stunned the Baltimore Colts 27-0.
In 1965 at Lambeau Field, what had been a fast track the day before turned into a muddy mess following an overnight snowstorm. So the advantage went from being in favor of the speedy Browns to the power-laden Packers, and the result was a 23-12 Green Bay victory.
In 1967 at Lambeau was the famous Ice Bowl, the coldest game in NFL history, and the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17.
The Colts – Shhh! Don’t tell Goodell, but they were still in Baltimore then – shut the Browns 34-0 at Cleveland in 1968 on a wet, cold, rotten day.
Finally, in 1969 at Bloomington, Minn., the Minnesota Vikings routed the Browns 27-7. It was so cold that Walter Johnson, Cleveland’s Pro Bowl DT, got frostbite on his fingers. He was also the Browns’ biggest player, and as such it took a lot of his teammates to hold him down so he could get treatment as he writhed in pain on the locker room floor.
Is that football? Or abuse?
I think the latter.
I’m all about tradition. Nobody values it more than I do, and few value it as much.
But tradition is not subjecting the Super Bowl to a blizzard when there are any number of warm, comfortable places where it can be held.
So the NFL avoided disaster this time. If Roger Goodell is wise, then he won’t put the world’s biggest game up to chance in that regard ever again.