Super Bowl in New Jersey is a bad idea
I love cold weather games.
And games played in snow.
And those played in mud.
I even once played in one of the coldest games in the history of New Jersey high school football during my junior year: November 21, 1987, Wayne Valley vs. Lincoln at Roosevelt Stadium in North Bergen (about 10 minutes from the Meadowlands). Wind chill that day: negative 30 degrees. So, before we begin, don’t bother hitting me with emails declaring, “You’re a bigger wimp than Vince Vaughn’s character in Rudy! Football's a MAN’S game, and you obviously don’t know anything about it!”
To be blunt, the NFL owners' decision to have the Super Bowl in New Jersey in February at night in 2014 is an insult to the entire premise of the Super Bowl, which is to host the champions of the AFC and NFC at a neutral site under quality conditions. Cold weather, lots of wind and possible snow would be blatantly unfair to a warm weather/dome team (who make up more than half the league) that worked their tails off to represent their conference. It would also be a disaster to watch no matter who's playing, but more on that in a moment.
For example, let's say the 13-3 Saints were the NFC rep, while, say, the 10-6 Patriots came out of the AFC. Would New England have a distinct advantage in a Northeast Super Bowl in February?
Cheerleaders of a New York Super Bowl (see: The entire New York media) claim it comes with the territory of playing in the NFL in terms of dealing with conditions good and bad. But let's say New Orleans got here after earning a No. 1 seed and used home-field advantage (and the pass-happy environment that comes with it) to catapult their way to the big game. Sound familiar? The Saints will have earned the right to battle the AFC rep for the title without having to worry about changing their entire philosophy to conform to conditions on the field.
On the other hand, New England could be a wild card team (not far-fetched given recent Super Bowl history) at 10-6, but would likely still be favored if it's 25 degrees (common for N.J. in February at night) and windy (VERY common at the Meadowlands any time of year). Drew Brees and the Saints would be severely hampered under such a scenario.
Would that be fair?
But who cares? After all, it might snow, and fans love the white stuff (although the chances of that happening are about two percent).
Another thing you keep hearing is how the best games are played under adverse conditions. Ratings will absolutely skyrocket for a cold-weather Super Bowl, they say.
The Super Bowl needs hype?
Have the last three years — all great games — and particularly Saints-Colts (only the most-watched broadcast of any program in history), forced the league to change their strategy in getting more eyeballs in front of the tube?
A wind-swept, ugly affair with inept passing games won’t do much for ratings, but will hurt a product whose league has bent over backwards to showcase great quarterback play and offense in general. The history's disturbing, as the last four playoff games played in January in East Rutherford have produced the following scores: 23-11 ('09), 23-0 ('06), 41-0 ('03), 41-0 ('01). The last game featured a shutout of a Vikings offense that scored over 30 points in nine of 17 games that season to that point.
The only professional (to be generous) game ever to be played at old Giants Stadium in February took place in 2001. What? You don’t recall the Birmingham Bolts' emotional 19-12 win over the N.Y./N.J. Hitmen in an XFL classic on February 11 of that year? Weather on that day: Cloudy, windy, with a real-feel temp of six degrees for a 4:00 p.m. local start.
The notion that NFL fans won't leave their seats anytime after halftime on a blustery Sunday night while absorbing a 16-6 game unfold is more hilarious than Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood not being called Gladiator 2. Here's the memo: Regular fans, save for maybe 15 percent, aren't getting anywhere near the inside of that stadium. Fat cats, corporate sponsors and guests of the league are there to take in the spectacle, and the minute things get uncomfortable after Taylor Swift performs with the Rolling Stones with special guest Kanye West at the half, they're going to bail faster than NBC did on Conan.
Will the same happen at the 2014 Super Bowl?
It'll be worse.
And I love the argument that football at the Meadowlands would showcase old-school football. Was the greatest game ever played (Colts-Giants in '58) played on turf? That looked like grass and dirt to me. And speaking of that game, it was played during a time when the league’s championship game was played in December, not February, and at a time where the key to success didn’t involve throwing more than 30 times per game. Having lived in Jersey most of my life, outside of a few years in Maryland (fear the turtle), I can tell you the difference between February and December around here is HUGE, particularly when it comes to the wind. In other words, break out the full-house backfield and let the chips fall where they may.
As my colleague Peter Schrager mentioned, there have been some tremendous cold weather games (Pats-Raiders in '02 being the modern example). But for every Brady tuck-rule game, there are 20 forgettable, sloppy, low-scoring or one-sided contests in between.
Cold, snow, wind … it's all part of football, no doubt. That's why we now have three tiers of playoffs and a regular season that extends into January to satisfy the “I want to see Tom Coughlin’s frozen face morph into Joan Rivers” itch.
Roger Goodell wants this game for all the wrong reasons: He grew up here and could host some really cool parties leading up to the game. Look! There’s Jay-Z, Cameron Diaz, A-Rod, Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Justin Bieber and Snooki tearing it up at the Maxim party at Tenjune! Ugh.
Jets owner Woody Johnson (who risks having his games blacked out locally next year due to insane PSL fees) and Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch have only a financial interest in mind. If they wanted the Super Bowl so badly without any debate, they should have forked over the cash necessary to make the new stadium a dome if needed. The investment could easily be compensated by hosting the Final Four, boxing, the Olympics in 2020, etc.
The New York media have sported pom-poms on this from the very beginning. Here’s my challenge to the Mike Lupicas and Michael Kays and any other media member named Mike who may be advocating this:
Ditch the press box and sit in the upper deck of that stadium during the game and don’t leave until the final gun. See how that works out for you.
Same goes for all the owners who voted for "yes." Say no to the utopian atmosphere of the luxury boxes. Watch the game with the real fans (if you can find them) outside. Unless the new Nyets Russian owner (Mikhail Prokhorov) buys an NFL team between then and now, it’s guaranteed there won’t be any takers.
Teams from Green Bay to Seattle to Buffalo to San Diego, if they were exceptional during the regular season, are rewarded for their regular season record and therefore get to host games played under conditions they're already used to. That’s their advantage. That’s what separates football from all other sports. But to throw the Super Bowl into this equation, which should be played under the best conditions possible in fairness to each conference representative, jeopardizes all regular season and playoff accomplishments to that point.
So, who are the losers in all of this?
Fans who love high-scoring games, crisp passes, great catches, low turnover rates and compelling championship games (like we’ve had the past three years in perfect circumstances).
The biggest losers?
One of the 17 warm weather or air-based dome teams that kills itself to get to the Super Bowl, only to see the whole prospect of a fair fight completely compromised.
Enjoy the hype leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, because that’s as good as it’s gonna get.
Joe Concha is a FOXSports.com contributor. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.