By Ernie Palladino
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All the turnover troubles of the season hasn’t taken the touch of the poet out of Eli Manning. When faced with a question about the NFL’s Super Bowl contingency plan, just in case the Farmer’s Almanac is right about the bazillion feet of snow it’s predicting for the Feb. 2 game, he left no doubt about his stance.
“Just go play it,” he told the media.
Ah, Eli. Short. Sweet. Succinct.
So maybe it doesn’t have the élan of a Mark Twain, who famously said, “We all grumble about the weather, but … nothing is done about it.” But Manning and the old Mississippi riverboat hand definitely share the same wavelength when it comes to mother nature: There’s nothing you can do about the weather, so just get on with it.
The league might want to listen — to Manning, not Twain. The latter doesn’t talk much anymore, at least not since 1910 when he went to that great library in the sky. But Manning, he had a point. Regardless of the weather, the league should play Super Bowl XLVIII on the date it was scheduled.
The reasoning is simple. Nobody put the proverbial gun to the league owners’ heads to approve this game for MetLife Stadium, an open-air, cold-weather venue. The minute they approved the Jets’ and Giants’ proposal, they signed up for whatever meteorological event might happen on a February evening.
If you’ve lived around here long enough, you know that ranges anywhere from dry, windy, and cold conditions to a whiteout. About the only thing that should surprise anyone from this area is a 65-degree reading on the thermometer. But we know in our heart of hearts that that won’t happen.
But change the date? Nah.
Of course, the NFL folks, many of whom are paid handsomely to get nervous over these things, have plans for a Saturday game, or a Monday or Tuesday game, or even a postponement to the following Sunday. That’s not only unnecessary, it’s silly.
Imagine all the happy people from out of town, all flocked together since Thursday for a big Super Bowl weekend being told, “Sorry, game’s off. Come back next week.”
That should go over big with the 400,000 revelers who stream into the area for the ancillary events alone. Jobs, hotel reservations, double plane fare, and the prospect of a rocky home life from running off from the wife and kids not once, but twice, all make a postponement of any significant length impractical at the very least.
Playing it the day before won’t help. The fans who come in strictly for the game won’t get here until Saturday night. And there’s no guarantee that even postponing a day or two will come off, since getting a flight back home is difficult anyway. Some of those fans, who will fill much of the 80,000-seat stadium, could be stuck here until Friday with a Tuesday kickoff.
Imagine the lawsuits seeking refunds and travel compensation. Imagine the lawyers billing statements.
The fact is, Super Bowls have been played in snowy cities before. Just not in open-air stadiums. Detroit hosted one, and everybody arrived on-time despite inclement weather. In the regular season, New England and Chicago and Philadelphia never seem to have trouble filling seats despite driving snows. And the games become pretty interesting, too.
Ultimately, where there’s a will, there’s a way, as the old saying goes. The league knew what it was getting into when it gave MetLife the Super Bowl as a one-shot experiment. Aside from the fact that some of football’s most famous games have been played in ungodly conditions and packed houses nonetheless — think Ice Bowl I and II — everyone should take a breath and listen to the Giants’ quarterback.
Manning may not be playing in this one, but the boy knows what he’s talking about.
The heck with snow. Just play the darned thing.
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