Another frigid Super Bowl, another joke played by NFL

Posted Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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lebreton The weather forecast for this Super Bowl Week:

Cold and wintry, with a 100 percent chance of wisecracks.

For the NFL, you see, this was always destined to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Like the groundhog in Punxsutawney that manages to always see his shadow.

From the first time that it announced that it had awarded Super Bowl XLVIII to MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands, the NFL has tried to act as if — wink, wink — it was in on the joke.

The host committee’s official logo, for example, prominently bears the image of a snowflake.

More recently, commissioner Roger Goodell announced that he planned to view the game not while sitting on his customary ermine throne, but rather outside amongst the winter-swept commoners.

Cold? What cold?, the NFL seems to be telling us, teasingly.

In the latest forecast by the Weather Channel, as it turns out, the Jersey temperature at Super Bowl kickoff is expected to be around 37 degrees with a 30 percent chance of showers.

Hardly Iditarod-like conditions. Which means that despite a bone-chilling, week-long run-up to the big game, the airports likely will remain open, the shuttle buses should run on time and the assembled media probably won’t get to gleefully report on Winter Storm Roger or how the latest Polar Vortex ruined Goodell’s corporate party.

Oh, we’ll still complain. It’s what we do.

But if the forecasters are correct, Super Bowl history won’t be made this week.

The coldest Super Bowl on record? That would be the notorious 1982 game, Super Bowl XVI, where it was 16 degrees in Pontiac, Mich.

Situated 31 miles north of Detroit, the Pontiac Silverdome was tedious to commute to even on the fairest of Sundays. Add in the multi-escorted arrival of then-Vice-President George H. W. Bush, which shut down surrounding highways, and pregame traffic came to a complete halt.

I was in a caravan of media buses that were still outside of the Silverdome’s parking lot perimeter when our driver suddenly stopped and threw up his hands. He eased open the door of the bus, pointed to the distant stadium and apologized.

The Silverdome lot was still glazed over from a Friday night ice storm. All I remember about the half-mile trek is hearing my media colleagues behind me, tumbling to the frozen asphalt with their computer terminals spinning away from them.

The NFL, alerted to our dilemma, greeted us at the stadium door with blankets and hot chocolate.

I have only a vague recollection of the game.

Super Bowl IX, played outdoors at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans because the Superdome wasn’t finished, saw temperatures in the raw and dank 30s.

More fresh in Super Bowl memories, however, is the week of Super Bowl XLV, when North Texas was hit with 3.7 inches of snow and ice.

The Super Bowl media howled. What do you mean you don’t have any snowplows, they asked?

Alas, we’re a community of drivers, not taxi riders or subway commuters. Unlike here, where the teams, fans and media were scattered across Tarrant and Dallas counties, most of the Super Bowl media this week will be housed in Manhattan. Taxis will be plentiful when foul weather arrives.

Just bundle up, the NFL seems to be telling visitors. There’s going to be plenty of hot chocolate to go around.

The first New York-New Jersey Super Bowl was always destined to be cold and wintry. The NFL — wink, wink — has been in on the joke from the start.

That host committee logo with the snowflake? It depicts one other prominent local landmark:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s current nemesis, the George Washington Bridge.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

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