Chilly Temperatures Put Football Back in Its Element
Super Bowl Location Stirs Debate
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 02:01
Winter is here, and soon Super Bowl XLVIII will be too. True football fans should be hoping that Mother Nature unleashes her fury on the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., in what looks to be the first cold-weather, outdoor Super Bowl in recent memory.
The game of football is changing. The league is becoming more pass-happy as fast-paced offenses gain prevalence. A reason for this change is the ever-increasing number of domes and retractable-roofed stadiums that are popping up in cities across the country. As it stands, nine teams play their home games indoors, free of any potentially inclement weather. Not surprisingly, the four teams with retractable roofs decide to keep them closed nearly twice as often as they keep them open, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The league needs to change this, and hopefully this upcoming Super Bowl will help fans come to this realization.
Weather.com has projected a game-time forecast with a high of 37, low of 27 and a 30 percent chance of rain or snow showers for the meeting between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos this Sunday. What makes this forecast so exciting is the potential for snow — something yet to be seen on the NFL’s biggest stage.
Inclement weather makes football more exciting, and forces teams to return to fundamentals.
Arguably the most memorable regular season game of the NFL season was a windy, raw Sunday night matchup between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. The cold weather caused the Patriots to turn the ball over repeatedly and fall behind early. The Brady-led comeback that ensued was particularly impressive because of his quarterbacking with the wind in his face. The wind was so vicious that, in overtime, Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided that adjusting to the weather was more important than taking possession of the ball after the Patriots had won the toss. At the time, the decision was shocking, but in hindsight, it paid off: The Patriots won in overtime after the Broncos muffed a punt. The game showed how weather could throw a wrinkle into a contest that demands players and coaches to adjust.
Now, think about the way that Drew Brees played on the road this year. The pro bowler and his team struggled so much on the road — away from the friendly confines of the Superdome — that analysts constantly questioned whether their success was of merit. The Saints defeated the Eagles on the road in their first playoff game before they lost to the Seahawks in blustery conditions.
Last year’s Super Bowl, which took place in the Saints’ home stadium, was memorable because of an infrastructure malfunction that resulted in the lights going out. Players were forced to overcome a momentum shift because of a technical delay and not the potential for a sub-optimal weather situation.
If asked who the most successful coach in NFL history is, the first name that always comes to mind is Vince Lombardi. The success of the teams Lombardi coached rested on bruising defenses, grinding offenses and a focus on a team-based, X’s and O’s style of football. His Packers played outdoors on the frigid tundra that is Lambeau Field — always glad to face opponents in playing conditions that were often unfavorable for each club.
Indoor football may be exactly what the league wants. Faster players, more passing and a temperate atmosphere make watching games at home more exciting and attending games more comfortable. But fans of franchises that play in domes do not always see the way that these venues can affect their community. Domes and facilities with retractable roofs are costlier for the taxpayers who fund stadium constructions by a considerable margin. Is it really worth an extra $200 million in taxes for a football team to play indoors, or could that money be better appropriated?
The hot-button issue in the NFL right now is player safety. Playing inside usually means playing on turf, and these perfect conditions make players just a tiny bit faster. This means that the hits are a tiny bit harder, and injuries occur just a tiny bit more frequently. As fans and fellow humans, we must decide whether this marginal increase in speed is worth the potential for bigger hits and more brain injuries.
Many fans and talking heads are skeptical of the Super Bowl being played outdoors this weekend. I urge fans to take a different approach and look at the merits of what the cold and potential snow could bring. More running, better fundamental football and the potential for a memorable contest that could shape the future of the NFL’s biggest game.
Matt Castaldo is a junior in the College. MORE THAN A GAME appears every Tuesday.