By Ernie Palladino
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The weather outside was frightful Tuesday, and if this trend continues our much-anticipated, open-air Super Bowl a week from Sunday won’t be so delightful.
Imagine the hue and cry from the out-of-town media who arrive and have to spend a week getting around in this cold, wet stuff. Oh, they’ll raise Cain about how silly the NFL was to award this area a cold-weather Super Bowl.
And heaven only knows how Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman will react. It only took a few pre-game utterances from Niners receiver Michael Crabtree to get him going moments after he deflected Colin Kaepernick’s end zone pass into Malcolm Smith’s arms to create one of the most memorable conference championship game endings in history. Of course, he followed that with one of the most memorable rants in history as a stunned Erin Andrews put a firmer grasp on her microphone than her wits as Sherman railed about his victim.
Throw an inch or so of snow on the MetLife Stadium FieldTurf and see how Sherman erupts.
All that will be the sideshow, however. The big question will involve the quarterbacks. This is a dream matchup, not just because it features the NFL’s top teams in each conference — no wild cards sneaking in this year — but also two of the most dynamic quarterbacks around. Peyton Manning needs no introduction, especially after the future Hall of Famer took New England apart in the air last week. And Russell Wilson is one of the best young quarterbacks to break onto the scene, blessed with both mobility and accuracy and power.
It has all the makings of a memorable, fun, high-scoring affair. Two excellent quarterbacks, a bevy of receivers, and two decent running games to open up the air game.
But what if the weather is just too blustery and snowy? Assuming the league doesn’t throw the game into contingency gear and postpone it, we could well see a grounding of these two wonderful throwers.
It’s not like these two haven’t played in adverse conditions before. They all have, be it in college or the pros. But one wonders if Manning, a dome quarterback in Indianapolis until he moved to Denver this year, will be somewhat reluctant to sling it around in a driving snow. Wilson, who deals with a rain-soaked home city, might be equally adverse to putting up too many long balls to folks like Doug Baldwin, Golden Tate and Jermaine Kearse.
Wilson does have another potent weapon in running back Marshawn Lynch, whose legs never seem to stop going. So that could make it entertaining enough. But what people are really looking for is the air war these two quarterbacks promise.
Face it. Nobody who comes to this one will expect anything less than 42-35, either way. If it winds up in a grounded, grind-it-out affair because of the weather, no one is going to walk out of there satisfied.
Still, the potential elements will add a bit of mystery to it all. Will they or won’t they throw? Will it snow at all, or will the metropolitan area have gotten all the icky stuff out of its system by Feb. 2?
We do know it will be cold. It always is around here in February. And we know that commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t plan on seeking refuge in a luxury box. He’s planning to sit in the stands, weather be darned, if only to prove that the idea of an outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl is not the machination of a bunch of owners gone mad.
We’ll see soon enough what the heavens have planned for the area. At the same time, we’ll see what kind of use two outstanding quarterbacks put their wonderful arms to.
Just hope the snowflakes don’t get in the way.
Then again, it might be fun for Sherman to share his feelings about that, too.
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