Super Bowl vote shows NFL power

The biggest surprise about the New York area landing a Super

Bowl turned out to be that the NFL owners were more concerned about

the cold than they should have been.

It took four ballots to declare the Meadowlands a winner, which

seemed about three too many considering the Jets and Giants did

more than their part for the league by getting a new $1.6 billion

stadium built in the first place.

A win is a win, though, and politicians and team owners got

together at the stadium Wednesday to congratulate each other and

predict the 2014 game will be a great event, no matter the

weather.

Now organizers can begin concentrating on the real question

surrounding the game: Bon Jovi or Springsteen? Which aging New

Jersey rocker will be willing to brave the elements for this

halftime show?

That’s probably more important to most fans than the extended

forecast. There are more than 100 million people in this country

who could care less if the Super Bowl is in New Jersey or

Newfoundland.

Their only care is that it’s in high definition on the big

screen in the family room.

Give the NFL credit – with a big assist from the media center of

the world – for making the site selection more interesting than

Mets-Yankees interleague play, or the NBA conference finals.

What has been all but overlooked in the game razzle-dazzle is a

Supreme Court decision that could have far more impact on the

league and its future.

The court rejected the NFL’s request for broad antitrust law

protection Monday, saying it must be considered 32 separate teams –

not one big business – when selling branded items like jerseys and

caps.

At the same time, the high court reversed a lower court ruling

throwing out an antitrust suit brought against the league by one of

its former hat makers, which was upset that it lost its contract

for making official NFL hats to Reebok International Ltd.

That could have ramifications on everything from talks with the

players’ union to the setting of ticket prices. Nevertheless, the

hot-button topic is possible snow accumulations for a Super Bowl

that is four years away.

We know this much: Yes, it will probably be cold – most likely

in the 30s – and there’s a good chance the wind will blow. But

using Feb. 2 as a probable date, records show that in the past 44

years, there was snow 4 percent of the time and the rain percentage

was 14.

It doesn’t exactly figure to be the frozen tundra of legend at

Lambeau Field. Then again, no one plays on tundra these days

anyway.

And while it’s true that the cold might put a warm weather team

like Tampa Bay at a disadvantage, there’s not a lot of downside to

hosting the game up North. That’s especially true for the people

the game is really played for – those sitting in front of their

televisions on the biggest money-making day of the year in any

sport.

Honestly, do you care if some corporate bigwig at the game on

his company expense account has to bundle up between trips to the

martini bar? Are you concerned that some other freeloading

executive might get wet while waiting for someone to bring a

catered meal to his seat on the 40-yard-line?

Hardly. And unless you’re one of the few who has a rooting

interest in the game instead of a betting interest, you don’t care

that the ball may not sail perfectly in the wind or that the wide

receivers have to wear extra thick gloves.

Giving the Super Bowl to New York/New Jersey for building that

new stadium isn’t likely to start a trend, no matter how much teams

like Pittsburgh and New England might want one of their own. The

New York experience is probably a one-off, at least for the next

decade or so.

Meanwhile, the NFL has other things to worry about. The Supreme

Court ruling could make it harder for the league to get broader

protection against antitrust laws. And it could give the players’

union something to use next year – the threat of decertifying

itself – when the collective bargaining agreement ends after next

season and there’s a possible lockout or work stoppage.

Not that any of that matters to the casual fan. They’ll start to

worry about labor relations when it looks as though their favorite

players might not be allowed on the field.

No reason for them to worry about the temperature at kickoff

time in 2014, either.

Because they won’t be the ones freezing in the Meadowlands.

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Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated

Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org