Snow what? Football belongs outdoors

When the Lions played in Philadelphia last season, who can forget the first-half blizzard?

At this stage of my life, I tend to ignore everything about the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

Maybe it’s misfit-media Tuesday, when every Tom, Dick, and Mary takes the profession down to its lowest common denominator. Or perhaps the Lions’ prolonged misfortunes have soured me too much to care anymore.

Whatever the reasons are, until the ball is kicked off on Sunday evening, my time isn’t occupied with any of the hype surrounding America’s biggest sporting event.

That is, until this year.

For the past several days, I have heard way too many weather reports for Sunday’s game and listened to far too many football purists complain that playing the game outdoors, in a cold climate, somehow compromises the integrity of the game.

I actually heard one respected scribe say, "If it’s windy, that could really have an effect on Peyton’s (Manning) passing game, and that just doesn’t seem fair. This is the league’s showcase event. It should be played under ideal conditions to let the players shine."

Shine as in sunshine, I assume.

Football was meant to be played outdoors, regardless of the elements. From the frozen tundra in Green Bay to the oppressive heat in Texas, and everything in between, the weather has always been part of the game.

When the Lions played in Philadelphia last season, who can forget the first-half blizzard? The game was the talk of the nation. Social media blew up with people commenting on that modern-day Snow Bowl.

What has always set football apart from the other major sports is that the game is played regardless of the weather, except for the occasional lightning delay.

As kids, whenever we played football, we wanted bad weather just so we could emulate our gridiron gladiators.

Certainly, I understand that the Super Bowl has grown into a national obsession. With the high prices being charged for tickets, the lavish parties and all the other jazz that accompanies the game, everybody wants the most bang for their buck.

And spending a week in a warm-weather climate sure beats tooling around New York City in the dead of winter, but it’s a football game that’s at the root of this national celebration.

Denver and Seattle play outdoors, and many times the weather conditions for the Broncos’ and Seahawks’ home games are less than ideal. But again, that’s football.

Back on Dec. 28, 1958, the NFL Championship Game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts was played at Yankee Stadium. The game was televised nationally by NBC and was the first championship game that went into sudden-death overtime.

It also featured what would later be dubbed the "two-minute drill," when QB Johnny Unitas directed the Colts to a game-tying 20-yard field goal. The drive began with just over two minutes left from Baltimore’s 14-yard line.

That Johnny U. drive and the subsequent overtime victory by the Colts (23-17) are why that game is known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." An outdoor game played in late December at Yankee Stadium is considered the best game ever.

Granted, the weather was pretty nice that day. According to the New York Times, it was 47 degrees for the opening kickoff at 2 p.m., and by 4 p.m., it was 49 degrees with little wind.

You just never know with the weather, and that’s the point.

Football’s a nasty game that’s played by tough, larger-than-life athletes. If the weather’s nasty, so be it. This isn’t a game played by or for the faint of heart.

Enjoy the game and accept the elements.

I shudder at what Johnny U. would say about all the whining over cold temperatures and the possibility of a little snow.