New York to host 2014 Super Bowl. Pack your mukluks.
The Super Bowl is as much a carnival as a football game, which is what makes the choice of New York for the 2014 edition unique in Super Bowl history.
Yes, you might say, this is how football was meant to be played – in three-foot snowdrifts with a wind chill that could freeze the nose off a yak.
This is football, you say, not badminton. The fact that the elements have not been a factor in NFL title games since the advent of the Super Bowl has been a travesty against the sport. In fact, just saying “the elements” sends shivers up your spine (in a good way).
But what about the halftime show? Wardrobe malfunction? Only if Taylor Swift’s mukluks get caught in the space heater.
The Super Bowl, you see, is not a football game. It is a one-week party at which a football game happens to be played.
For the purists, perhaps, the prospect of Peyton Manning’s benumbed fingers throwing five interceptions into a gale-force wind might be “football as it’s meant to be played.” As spectacle, however, a New York snow bowl might be more suited for the blooper reel.
With this vote today, the NFL has spoken with its heart and not its head.
Bringing the Super Bowl to New York is a feel good story – an idea that first emerged in a serious way after 9/11. More recently, it has been seen as a way to pay tribute to the late Wellington Mara, the New York Giants owner whowas a pivotal figure in the rise of the national Football League.
A New York Super Bowl also gives the frozen-tundra crowd one last vision of championship football as it was once played – a test of fortitude to take the field as much as play on it.
But this is not the way the NFL has made its name in recent years. The game has become a carnival of forward passes, and New York Februaries tend to be more conducive to football played in straight lines: run forward, get tackled, repeat.
As a result, the elements have a shrinking place in the modern game. Last year, three of the four semifinalists played in domes. A fluke, perhaps. But an instructive one.
The NFL is now American sport’s equivalent of a popcorn blockbuster at the movies – all action.
Of course, February 2014 could be beautiful in New York. Recent years have seen temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit on what would be Super Bowl day. Or it could be a scene from “The Day After Tomorrow.”
The average high in New York in February is 40 degrees F.
What is certain is that the Big Apple will get its day in the sun. Proverbially, at least.