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By Jason Keidel
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With this blizzard hovering over us like the haunting, alien ship from “Independence Day,” many local fans are pondering the merits of hosting the Super Bowl in 2014.
As you flee home from the snow as though Godzilla were lumbering onshore, remember something. The odds of an identical storm punching us like a cold, white fist are microscopic.
If you object to the Super Bowl, do it for the right reasons. You’re already sick of the army of tourists stumbling across our region — their feet jammed in sandals and socks with backpacks jutting like chimneys from their backs, pausing every five steps to snap a picture of Tad’s Steakhouse.
Traffic is bad enough — with the potholes tossing you around your taxi or bus, squeezing into the subway car like cattle at rush hour — without an added layer of lost commuters. The bartender already ignores you way too long between drinks without a team of Texans flashing their “Hook ‘em Horns” gang sign for drinks. You don’t need Route 3 closed for a week while you try to inch across that bridge sneaking over the Hackensack River. You don’t need to stand on your 5:30 p.m. train when you’re used to plopping on the same seat every night.
This is for you, who spent your life here, not the Oberlin grads who came here after Y2K to chase their Sex in the City fantasies.You already live here and you don’t want your routine disturbed for a football game. But snow can’t be the deal-killer.
In terms of bad weather for the game, I can’t be the only kid from the streets who prayed for snow for the football game we played after school. Indeed, millions of us over 40 were reared on NFL Films, the Philadelphia Harmonic and John Facenda taking us on our own dreamlike journey to January. I dropped back many a snowy night, pretending to be Terry Bradshaw or Dan Marino, firing a football through the snowflakes to an eager receiver. Forget that our idea of a bomb was 30 yards.
The weather made the game as much as the kids who played in it. Snow, at the least, should appeal to our preadolescent notions of a gridiron. Most of the most iconic games, contoured to our endless imaginations, were played in bad weather. Remember the Ice Bowl, with Bob Lilly digging his cleats into the frozen dirt at the goal line while Bart Starr chatted on the sideline with Vince Lombardi, clouds of chilled breath puffing from his facemask? Imagine Eli Manning barking at Tom Coughlin’s obscenely red face in the red zone. There’s a legitimate chance that the host city will have its local team in the game.
Then there’s the turf war, pun intended. We reflexively call New York City the host, despite the game being played in New Jersey, which has chafed natives of the Garden State. As someone who was born and raised in Manhattan and spent 30 years on the island, but since hopped the Hudson for the more reasonable rent, the difference is negligible. Hudson County is merely Queens west. The accents are just as thick, the hair equally high, the blue-collar bent just as prevalent — and the attitude just as ornery.
Most New Yorkers are born with the arrogant certainty that when God created the universe, he started with Times Square. And if we can appease a million people for New Year’s Eve, we can handle a quarter-million visitors for the Super Bowl. Like the Steve Austin show said, we have the technology. We have the hotel rooms. We have the shows. We have the restaurants. We have the comedy and nightclubs. We have enough booze, beer and food to feed entire nations.
And if we can sweep Times Square clean in a few hours, making 42nd Street pristine by 6 a.m., we can handle a football game. And if the tourism leaks into New Jersey, which it’s sure to do, we can use the quid. Surely we can handle a week of inconvenience to say we saw a Super Bowl in our backyard. For decades, the Super Bowl has largely been the province of palm trees and sand and salty air. We have the smell of pretzels and hot dogs and roasted cashews and the occasional, swampy stench along the New Jersey Turnpike. Let the masses get a whiff of a real city.
It just feels like the Super Bowl belongs here, the biggest game in the shade of the biggest city. Indeed, this will be the first time in history that the game itself will shrink in the shadow of its host. We don’t need a Super Bowl. But it still would be pretty cool, even if it means a few aliens in our way for a week.
Would you love it if the Super Bowl were played in a blizzard? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…