NY Sports Day

Goodell Helps NYC Area Become Super Pioneers

New York has often held the reputation of being the greatest city in the world.

So, it’s fitting that in February, 2014, the world will be watching New York (and by extension, New Jersey) host the planet’s biggest game.

And, unless anyone has an accurate 45-month weather forecast, there’s no telling what we all may see.

One thing’s for certain, however. It figures to be unique and exciting, just like New York.

That possibility now exists after the National Football League ultimately went through with the heretofore unthinkable, although not everyone is on board with the idea of breaking tradition, as evidenced by Tuesday’s historic vote among NFL owners which allowed the New York City area to become the inaugural cold weather guinea pig — er, host — for the Super Bowl.

It took four rounds of secret-ballot voting among the NFL’s 32 owners in Irving, Texas before New York/New Jersey finally received the 75 percent of votes needed to beat out South Florida and later, Tampa, to take the first key step toward making football history.

Guiding the NFL’s latest and momentous change is NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who deserves a good deal of credit for pushing this particular endeavor, one that will most likely prove to be a gamble worth taking.

In fairness, Goodell has had his shortcomings since taking over as league commissioner on September 1, 2006. He gave the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick relative slaps on the wrist for their roles in the infamous “Spygate” scandal of 2007; he has failed to lead an adequate movement to do right by retired NFL players, especially those with debilitating injuries who are owed compensation by the NFL; under Goodell, the 2010 season will operate in an uncapped year, with a possible lockout looming for 2011; and, then there are the inconsistent punishments doled out for players such as the two-game suspension given to Michael Vick after serving 21 months in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, while giving a penalty of three times as many games to Ben Roethlisberger, who has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime amidst sexual assault allegations.

However, Goodell has also helped the league progress, mostly by encouraging NFL owners to think outside the box and embrace revolutionary notions during his tenure as commissioner.

The details involved with the sentences of some of the 16 suspended NFL players whom Goodell suspended for violating the NFL personal conduct policy deserve some reasonable questioning. Yet, overall, Goodell has done a solid job of cleaning up what might have become somewhat of a renegade league had he not taken his often hard-line stance with disciplining players.

Goodell has also either led or at least attempted to guide several other significant transformations, usually for the better, including the new overtime rule to go into effect in the upcoming NFL season; revamping the season schedule to have nothing but divisional games played during the final week of the regular season, in an effort to keep teams from intentionally tanking games; trying to trim the pre-season down while pushing for an extra regular season game or two; although outvoted by NFL owners, Goodell was right in trying to direct a change to have teams with better records always host playoff games, or if the commissioner had his way, even completely overhauling playoff seeding based on regular season records; and, Goodell has been influential in the type of new stadium development that made a New York Super Bowl possible.

Goodell’s penchant for being a trailblazer and challenging the norm have mostly added up to success for the league, as affirmed by NFL owners who extended Goodell’s contract by five years, through 2015 in February.

The maverick move by the New York native (from Jamestown, NY) of getting owners to vote in favor holding a Super Bowl in a cold weather city in the league’s biggest market is the best of example yet of Goodell driving positive change for the NFL.

If you’re concerned with inclement weather at the New York Giants’ and New York Jets’ new Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford negatively impacting the quality of play during Super Bowl XLVIII, don’t be.

Some of the greatest and most memorable games in NFL history have been played in far worse conditions than what we would likely see during Super Bowl XLVIII, such as the famed 1967 “Ice Bowl” NFL championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers on Flambeau Field’s legendary “Frozen Tundra.”

And, what about equity for both participants, you might say? How can a warm weather team like the Miami Dolphins for instance, possibly beat a cold weather team like the Chicago Bears if Super Bowl XLVIII were to be played during a blizzard?

Well, consider Super Bowl XXXVI, between the New England Patriots and the St. Louis Rams, in New Orleans. The Rams had seemingly every logistical advantage as the “Greatest Show on Turf,” as an overwhelming fourteen-point, defending champion, dome team favorite, playing indoors on the Superdome’s artificial surface, against the Patriots, hailing from the cold Northeast and used to playing on grass. The result was one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, a thrilling and equally stunning 20-17 Patriots’ victory.

Why should NFL fans be denied the chance to see perhaps an even greater upset, with a warm weather team possibly upsetting a heavy favorite, cold weather team in a cold weather Super Bowl, simply because some people are too afraid to go against predisposed convention?

If you still need further convincing, examine the Patriots’ road to Super Bowl XXXVI. Another of the NFL’s most unforgettable games ever played was New England’s famous “Tuck Rule” victory in heavy snow, over the Oakland Raiders in the divisional round in 2002.

Ironically, the Patriots later lost one of the NFL’s most historic Super Bowls, which was indirectly affected by a snow game. Possibly the best and most unlikely playoff run in NFL history was aided by the New York Giants’ 23-20 overtime win in frigid and snow-covered Green Bay, to set up the Giants incredible upset of the previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

Two great moments in NFL history -– the “Tuck Rule” game and the Giants’ amazing run to a championship –- each involved the type of weather that we might see in Super Bowl XLVIII. Those aren’t the types of events NFL fans should be deprived of simply because we might be afraid of the NFL trying something new.

Giants’ defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who played a major role in his team’s Super Bowl XLII victory, sees no problem with cold weather Super Bowls. “I know a lot of people have talked about the weather,” he said on Tuesday. “All I know is that when we won the NFC Championship game in Green Bay in minus-23 wind chill, it felt like Miami Beach to our team and our fans. I was ready to have an umbrella drink on the 50 [yard-line] when Lawrence’s kick [by kicker Lawrence Tynes] went through in overtime, and I don’t drink.”

And, that’s coming from a guy was born in London, England (foggy, but certainly not often snowy) and who played his college ball down south, at Troy University, in Alabama.

If bad weather can affect the playoff games that send teams to the Super Bowl, why should the NFL intentionally shield those same teams from inclement weather once they reach the Super Bowl?

The simple fact is, it shouldn’t, especially when there’s no guarantee of a supposed warm-weather venue producing good weather for a Super Bowl, such when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, in often, fairly heavy rain, in Miami.

As New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said during a rally in Times Square on Tuesday, “This is football, not beach volleyball.”

It’s also not the Olympics, for which nations must have either warm or cold climates that are capable of hosting the summer or winter games. That’s why it’s about time the bidding for the Super Bowl was opened up to any NFL venue, regardless of factors like temperature or precipitation.

That’s the main benefit for the NFL resulting from the owners’ vote. Prior to Tuesday, a cold weather Super Bowl was unimaginable. Now, the precedent has rightly been set for any NFL city to host a Super Bowl in the future.

Perhaps two years after history is made in East Rutherford, the NFL can hold the Super Bowl at the Washington Redskins’ Fed Ex Field. What better place to hold the nation’s game and mark half a century of Super Bowls than in the nation’s capital? Maybe not, but at least now, that’s a real possibility.

As for the all of the annual Super Bowl-related events held in and around the Super Bowl site, why should warm weather sites or cold weather places with domes have all of the fun?

Who throws a better party than New York?

Sure, some of the traditional outdoor events will have to be moved indoors, but, with world-class venues like Radio City Music Hall (where the NFL draft already takes place), the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and Madison Square Garden (to be renovated by 2014) to name just a few, New York will more than manage to put on the show of shows during Super Bowl week, cold weather and snow, or not. And, since it’s the Super Bowl, people will find their way to those events, whether delayed in arriving or not.

As good as the ancillary affairs were when MSG hosted the 1998 NBA all-star game or when Yankee Stadium hosted major league baseball’s all-star game a decade later, they’ll be taken up several notches for a Super Bowl in New York.

And, all of that would be increased exponentially if the game were ever to involve the stadium’s primary tenants, the Giants and Jets.

Tuesday’s decision paves the way for New York and New Jersey to become pioneers and mirror Goodell in his ability to innovatively lead the NFL.

Snow joke? Never.

Weather or not, New York will be ready for the Super Bowl.

And, if they can play it there, they can play it anywhere.


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