Go ahead and romanticize all you want about football in the snow.
Talk about it being the height of masculinity, the topmost of toughness. Tell me, and whoever else might listen, all about hefty men shoving each other around as the mercury — and with it snow — drops.
“The way the game is supposed to be played,” is a common refrain, as if the day this grand game was devised, the inventors of football only had in mind that the sport should be contested when flakes tumble to the turf.
Certainly, it makes for majestic theatre, as was the case in the NFL on Sunday in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington.
Snow soared and settled, games were played and we watched from the warmth and cover of our living rooms — many of us loved the additional element of all of this because we didn’t need to be out in it.
All fine and good for the regular season and even in through the playoffs, I guess.
Knock yourself out with those foul-weather contests.
But really, doesn’t it force a notion, even stronger if you didn’t feel this way already, that the NFL made a ridiculously ill-advised decision to host the upcoming Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.?
In a little less than two months, an AFC and NFC representative will clash in greater New York City in what will certainly be the game of most consequence for both of those teams — and the NFL — this season and you know what could happen?
Well, the field might appear like it did on Sunday in Philadelphia where it looked more like a Killington ski run than a plot of turf used for a football game. In that game — which the Eagles won against the Lions, 34-20 — neither team tried a field goal and 2-point conversion tries were attempted after seven of the eight touchdowns scored.
That isn’t the weather slightly or moderately impacting the football game. No, that is the weather wholly changing how the game is played, coached, strategized and, by extension, quite possibly the entire outcome.
We should live with that in the regular season, tolerate in the playoffs where teams earn home field advantage, but not stand for it as football consumers for a Super Bowl, where the best two teams are to be showcased on a neutral field under what ought be to be optimal conditions — or at least the best chance at optimal conditions.
The Lions lost running back Reggie Bush on Sunday when he took a tumble on that slippery pitch in Philadelphia in warmups and busted up his gimpy calf again. In Baltimore, meanwhile, a snow bowl was being decided at the end without Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, who damaged his right foot in the second quarter after pulling in a short pass and getting tackled.
Was the snow a factor in Peterson’s injury? Who knows.
But I can safely say this — a wet, snowy field like the one the game was played on in Baltimore on Sunday doesn’t make anyone run with more confidence, rather, it makes everyone a bit more hesitant.
Here in Pittsburgh, field workers diligently cleared the sideline markings and yard-line numerals, as that was about the best they could do. Snow covered a good portion of the playing surface.
There’s a lot of romanticism with seeing a field like that, but not a ton of practicality for anyone involved.
Now listen, there’s no guarantee the weather will be inclement on Feb. 2, 2014, when the Super Bowl is set for the metro New York Area.
It might be 55 degrees and clear; but it might also be 10 degrees with a foot of snow on the ground and more falling from the sky.
In the past, however, the threat of snow gumming up a game could largely (if not altogether) be taken out of the vortex of the Super Bowl, as the Superdome has hosted it seven times, stadiums in Miami a combined 10 and the Rose Bowl five times. The game has bounced around other places, almost-exclusively inside or where there was almost-certainly close to zero percent chance of accumulating snow.
This time, that isn’t the case. The Super Bowl this year might look like some of those flurry-filled games played on Sunday.
I sure hope it doesn’t.
But if it does, it is the NFL’s own dumb fault.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.