Did you get a glimpse of the Philadelphia Eagles-Detroit Lions football game last Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia?
The National Football League must be desperately hoping you weren’t catching a preview of this season’s Super Bowl, set for Feb. 2 in New Jersey.
That’s because the game was played in a blizzard. It began snowing two hours before game time, and by the time it was over, 6 inches had fallen. Not much more than a dusting had been predicted.
Footing was so bad that no field goals were attempted, and, after seven of the eight touchdowns that were scored, two-point conversions were tried.
How do you explain the high 34-20 score in such unavailing conditions? The offensive players had almost no footing, but the defensive players had none at all. A runner can negotiate slight changes in direction without falling, but a defensive player is virtually helpless to react.
So when a fast, shifty runner such as the Eagles’ LeSean McCoy finds a crack in the defense, defenders in the secondary are unable to react to even his smallest feints.
Players couldn’t see from one end of the field to the other. Once on the ground, a couple of them were seen rotating their arms to make snow angels. Passers were missing their marks by embarrassing distances.
In short, the game was more a test of a team’s accidental ability to adjust to unplayable conditions than of a team’s skill, preparation and athletic ability.
But the NFL long ago committed to playing the marquee event of the sports calendar, the Super Bowl, in MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and Jets.
The game that for decades has been played in sunny climes in hopes of eliminating bad weather as the determinant of the outcome was scheduled for this year in northern New Jersey — on purpose.
Bone-chilling cold, snow, sleet and — the worst nemesis of all for football players — high winds could prevail and take over the destiny of Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for non-Latin scholars).
The game that had been designed to eliminate all factors except ability to play football could suddenly be dependent on factors that severely compromise that ability.
Supporters of the idea of playing the game in the cold point out that some fabled contests in such sites as historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., — “the frozen tundra,” in sportscaster John Facenda’s immortal words — will live forever in football lore.
But wise minds quickly recognized the folly of holding the Super Bowl in such mayhem, and the game has long been restricted to cities that would take that element out of the equation.
The NFL will be praying for warm, sunny weather, lest Super Bowl XLVIII turn out to be Stupid Bowl I.