A Super Bowl in the elements? News sports writers debate the merits - The Buffalo News

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A Super Bowl in the elements? News sports writers debate the merits

The weather forecast for tonight’s Super Bowl XLVIII calls for a temperature of about 40 degrees at kickoff, with a 10 percent chance of rain and winds at only 7 to 10 mph.

It’s the first Super Bowl played outdoors at a cold-weather site.

News sports reporters Mark Gaughan and Tim Graham debate the merits of playing a Super Bowl in the cold:

Gaughan: I hate it, even though it looks like the NFL will luck out and weather won’t be a factor. The Super Bowl should not be played outdoors in cold weather. I hate it with a boiling passion, and I’m not just taking a strong stand to make for a better debate in print.

Graham: “A boiling passion.” That explains the angry hives you’ve broken into. I have zero problems with a wintry Super Bowl. I don’t care if it snows eight inches this afternoon. I don’t care if they play it on the moon. But I’ll grant you that playing on a snowy moon would be too extreme. ... So what’s your big issue with a football game being played in cold weather?

Gaughan: The Super Bowl should determine the best team. Playing in cold weather adds an unnecessary layer of luck into the equation. Is luck a factor anyway? Sure. The ball bounces funny. But play it in the best possible conditions and let the best team win. Imagine the Super Bowl being decided by a cornerback slipping on a patch of ice and giving up a lucky TD pass in the final minute. Or wind playing havoc with a potential game-winning 30-yard field goal. Or high wind causing a decisive interception that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

Graham: Feh. Those situations determine who gets to play in the Super Bowl anyway. Teams have been denied a shot at the Lombardi Trophy because of harsh weather conditions. You mention a 30-yard field goal. The Cleveland Browns threw a fateful interception in 1980 because they couldn’t try a game-winning, 30-yard field goal. The ball was frozen. The Oakland Raiders won that game and then won the Super Bowl. Dan Fouts couldn’t grip the ball and lost the Freezer Bowl in 1981. The Raiders were doomed in a heavy snow at the Tuck Rule Game in 2001. I could go on and on. ... When you consider the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles hosted snowy playoff games this season, I can argue weather already has influenced the outcome of tonight’s game.

Gaughan: You’re right. I still say the final game should be played in optimal conditions in the interest of determining the best team. You mention the Tuck Rule Game. That’s a big reason this is happening. New York organizers showed video of that game in selling NYC to the owners. NFL officials have talked about how snow would make the game “romantic” and “more visual,” meaning it looks great on TV and more people might watch. What a shock. The integrity of the game takes a back seat to money.

Graham: You’re so cynical on this subject. What happened to that ray of sunshine I’ve grown accustomed to getting when I see your face? One other aspect I like about this game is that the volatility of the weather has caused ticket prices to fall on the secondary market. That means normal fans – not corporate jamokes – have a better chance to attend the Super Bowl. Ticket reseller SeatGeek said its average ticket fell from $3,500 two weeks ago to $2,000 before rallying a little. Why do you hate the little man, Mark?

Gaughan: That hurts the little men. Now they can’t sell the ticket they won via lottery for three times the price on the secondary market and then watch the game on their couch, with a beer in their hand, in front of their 60-inch TV, the way God intended. Hopefully high winds on Monday morning will force all the corporate jets to be grounded. Maybe then the owners will hesitate before going to Chicago or Philadelphia in the future.

Graham: While I support the decision to play a Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, I predict the NFL won’t rush to use another outdoor stadium in a cold-weather market any time soon. The weather might be mild enough at kickoff, but the nervousness and uncertainty over the past few days are feelings the NFL won’t want to experience again. So I don’t think you’ll need to worry about another one, Mark. You’ll just have to endure this one.

email: mgaughan@buffnews.com, tgraham@buffnews.com

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