Wintry Sunday makes snowy Super Bowl look appealing
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) looks to pass during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) tries to stay in bounds as he rushes the ball past Baltimore Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee in the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Oh, the weather outside is frightful. “So what?” say LeSean McCoy, Cordarrelle Patterson and even the Miami Dolphins.
Let it snow, let snow, let it snow.
Sunday’s action in precipitation that took pretty much a straight line from Washington to Baltimore to Philadelphia – with a side trip to Pittsburgh – brought some spectacular performances.
While fans shivered and shuddered and perhaps even stayed away from the stadium, McCoy was as comfortable as an Eskimo in the blizzard-like conditions at the Linc. He did change his cleats after warmups, then ran for a franchise-record 217 yards. That included touchdowns of 57 and 40 yards, plowing his way downfield when the sloppy footing wouldn’t let him do his usual shake-and-bake moves.
He loved it. What’s not to like about a few, uh, million snowflakes?
“I’ve actually played all of my football in Pennsylvania,” said the native of Harrisburg who went to Pitt before joining the Eagles, “and this is the worst game that I’ve ever played in weather-wise. It’s my best game, too.”
It’s also the type of game we could see Feb. 2. You know, in that thing called the Super Bowl.
No, the NFL doesn’t want an outright blizzard, especially during the week leading up to the outdoor game at the New Jersey Meadowlands. That would really interfere with all of the buildup plans (and marketing and merchandising) that the New York metropolitan area – and the league – is counting on.
“If you are on the TV side with the NFL, a potential bad snow day or two or three will drive up viewership,” says Jeff Knapple, president of Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, a major sports marketing and media sales organization. “People will tune in to see what is going on just for the weather reason.
“If you are on the operations side at the NFL, of the sponsorship and marketing side, well, they may not be quite so thrilled.”
Roger Goodell has championed the idea of playing the Super Bowl in the elements, noting that the 1967 championship game at Lambeau Field dubbed the Ice Bowl has been voted the most memorable game in NFL history. He’s right that some of what we saw Sunday would make for a special environment at the Meadowlands in less than two months.
That would be particularly true if the title game replicates the offensive showcases, wild plays and drama produced after halftime in Philly, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
So bring on the snow.
“I had always wanted to play in the snow, and I got my opportunity today,” rookie wideout Patterson said Sunday after his sensational showing: 252 total yards, with a 79-yard sprint with a short pass for a TD with 45 seconds to go in the loss at Baltimore.
Patterson is from Rock Hill, S.C., and went to Tennessee.
Even the Dolphins, who have been among the most notorious flops in sports in bad-weather situations, welcomed the challenge. Sure, they are a long shot to get to the big game, but if somehow they do, there needs to be no intimidation factor if it is a windy and wet 15 degrees.
“I played in the cold before, but never snow like that. It was fun,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “It wasn’t too bad. Early in the game, the snow was coming down pretty good. But the ball felt good all day. You’re warm on the sideline, and once you get on the field, you feel good. It wasn’t anything really affecting the game too much besides the footing.”
Ah, the footing. That’s where things could get dicey at the Super Bowl. Yes, the NFL would like as much wintry atmosphere as possible. But it doesn’t want a slopfest like in the first half at Philly and Baltimore on Sunday.
“It was tough,” McCoy said. “You just didn’t have the normal footing and traction that you get when stopping and cutting. Sometimes I couldn’t really plant. I can usually plant on a dime, but it all worked out.”
What would work out best for the NFL and its first cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl? A relatively mild and dry week leading up to a morning snowfall Feb. 2. Nothing too heavy but enough to decorate the boundaries of the field for the first cold-weather Super Bowl outdoors.
That would make Goodell and the rest of the league look pretty smart.
And if a 15-incher hits the area that week …