Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Goodell orders up a Super Bowl that Jack Frost could love

The first guy who uses the phrase "winter wonderland" gets socked in his frostbitten nose.

Got it?

It's going to be cold at next weekend's Super Bowl. It's going to be c-c-c-cold. It's going to be see-your-breath, stop-your-teeth-from-chattering, hop-on-one-foot cold. It's going to be Ice Station Zebra cold. Planet Hoth cold. Sarah Palin's back yard cold.

In other words, yeah, it's going to be a little nippy.

One more time: Tell me who had the bright idea to put a Super Bowl in the New Jersey tundra, anyway? I mean, rewarding owners for building a stadium is one thing, but icicles in your shorts are another. You could have an Iditarod here, except that the dogs would refuse to leave the fire. Just asking, but is this the first NFL championship game that needs a Zamboni?

Let's see. The long-term forecast says the high will be 37 degrees, likely dropping to 27, with wind gusts of 10 mph that could drive the feels-like temperature even lower. Oh, and there's a 60 percent chance of precipitation. And right there in the middle, NFL commissioner Roger "Frosty" Goodell is sitting outside for this one. Yeah, and George Donner sat outside for his party, too.

If there is any justice, they will have to forcibly remove Goodell's keister from his seat. As for the celebrities in the stands? Each one will come equipped with his own St. Bernard.

Yeah, it's going to be cold.

Ice Bowl cold.

Freezer Bowl cold.

Snow Bowl cold.

Blizzard Bowl cold.

Snow Plow Game cold.

For the first time in Super Bowl history, the temperature is going to be a factor. Let's face it: That's the main reason the Super Bowl is normally held at a neutral site. That way, you can assure some degree of warmth for the players and the fans. Otherwise, you might as well let the best team play it as a home game, right?

This time, it is going to affect everything from the game plans to the quarterback's performance to the kickers.

For instance, Denver's Peyton Manning has historically struggled in cold-weather games. He is 0-4 in playoff games where the temperature is less than 40 degrees, and his quarterback rating, usually at 90.1 for playoff games, has dipped to 57.1. He has thrown four touchdown passes and nine interceptions in those games.

That's the thing with Manning. Every week, there is something for him to disprove. This week, it's finding a way while playing on a giant Eskimo Pie.

It isn't just Manning. Bad weather can affect every player on every play. It can help decide who wins. It can alter history.

For instance, how different would this league have been if the Cowboys had been able to stop Green Bay at the goal line in 1967?

That was the Ice Bowl, a game played in a wind-chill factor of minus-29. It left as many as five players with frostbite. It was so bad that, at one point, announcer Frank Gifford proclaimed that he was going to "take a bite of my coffee." The whistles of the referees froze.

That victory propelled coach Vince Lombardi to his second straight Super Bowl. If not, what might the trophy be called today? Would so many Packers be in the Hall of Fame?

Then there was the Freezer Bowl of 1982, the coldest game ever, in which the Bengals beat San Diego. Who knows? Without the weather factor, Dan Fouts might not be remembered as one of the best quarterbacks never to win a Super Bowl. He struggled in the minus-59 wind-chill factor.

"A Darwinism game," Bengals guard Dave Lapham told the New York Daily News.

There was Red Right 88 in 1981, an icy game that might have kept the Browns from winning a Super Bowl. The Browns lost to the Raiders when Brian Sipe threw a late interception because coach Sam Rutigliano didn't trust his kicker.

There was the Blizzard Bowl in 1948, when the Eagles beat the Cardinals 7-0. The field was covered with so much snow the teams had to help pull the tarp off the field so they could play.

Strange things happen in the cold. Do you remember the Snow Plow Game of 1982? A convict on work-release veered out of cleaning the yard lines and instead cleared a spot for Patriots kicker John Smith, who converted the kick for a 3-0 win.

You can still drive Don Shula's blood pressure through the roof by mentioning that one.

Then there was the Snow Bowl, a regular-season game in which the Bucs were blasted 21-0 by the Packers. Fourteen inches of snow fell before the game, and another 4-5 inches fell during it. The game temperature was only 30 degrees, but Green Bay receiver Preston Dennard said it felt like minus-20.

Oh, there were others. There was the 1984 playoff game between the Bills and Raiders with minus-32 degree temperatures. (The Bills, sadly, didn't do as well in sunny climates where Super Bowls were played.) There was the bitter Giants-Packers game from 2008, with a wind chill of minus-24.

There was the Colts' 10-7 upset of Kansas City in 1996 with a wind chill of minus-9. Otherwise, coach Marty Schottenheimer might have finally reached the Super Bowl. There was the Tuck Rule Game when the Raiders lost to the Patriots after Tom Brady fumbled (or didn't) in the late going of their snowy game. After that game, coach Jon Gruden bolted to the Bucs.

Again, history can be changed by the weather.

Now, there is a game ahead. The wind will blow, and the temperature will drop.

Meanwhile, Goodell will look on at the frigid game that he caused. He will be the guy with the tight smile, telling everyone how toasty he feels. Meanwhile, he will spend a lot of time thinking that this game could have been in Tampa.

Just wondering: Won't someone buy this guy a snow cone?

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