TWENTY-SIX YEARS ago, late Eagles owner Leonard Tose tried to convince his fellow NFL lodge brothers that the time was right to interrupt the league's annual January Super Bowl excursions to warm-weather sites and once again play the NFL championship game in manly-man weather.
Accompanied by 50 banjo-playing Mummers, he went down to the league's 1984 spring meeting at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington and pitched the idea of playing the 1987 Super Bowl at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
He didn't get laughed out of the room, but he didn't get the Super Bowl, either. He called in enough favors to keep the voting interesting for a few ballots before the owners awarded the '87 Super Bowl to Pasadena, Calif.
"It's been 39.8 degrees [in Philadelphia] on the average over the last 18 Super Bowls," Tose said back then. "If you can't play football in 39 degrees, then you shouldn't play football. This isn't a beach game. Some of the best football ever played has been in cold weather.''
For what it's worth, Philadelphia got a foot of snow the weekend they played that Super Bowl.
More than a quarter of a century after Tose's unsuccessful attempt to snag the Super Bowl, the league finally is going commando with the game. The owners, at their spring meeting yesterday in Dallas, awarded the 2014 game to New York/New Jersey.
The game, which will be played at the Giants' and Jets' new $1.6 billion, 82,000-seat home in the Meadowlands, will be the first Super Bowl in history to be played in an open-air stadium in a cold-weather city.
New York/New Jersey was one of three bidders for the 2014 game. The other two were South Florida, which already has hosted 10 Super Bowls, including the most recent one in February, and Tampa Bay, which has hosted four. NY/NJ won on the fourth ballot by a majority vote over Tampa. South Florida was eliminated after the second ballot.
"To get the support we got from the other 30 owners today, it's an amazing experience," Giants chairman Steve Tisch said. "This is going to be great for the NFL.
"Our slogan was 'Make History.' We made history. Will other East Coast teams try to do the same now? I'm sure they will. This opens the door to a lot of new possibilities."
Exactly how open that door is to other cold-weather cities with open-air stadiums, including Philadelphia, remains to be seen. Even before New York was awarded the game, Redskins owner Dan Snyder was huffing and puffing and telling the Washington Post that his city should get one because, "It's the nation's capital."
While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stopped short of saying this was a one-time-only situation, he said future games in cold-weather, open-air stadiums would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
"I think each game is going to be made on an individual basis," Goodell said. "I do believe that New York is a unique market, and I think the membership realizes that. It's the No. 1 market in our country."
Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, who is on the league's six-member Super Bowl advisory committee, voted for the NY/NJ bid.
"The Eagles are enthusiastic supporters of the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl,'' he said in a statement. "Some of the most dramatic and memorable games in NFL playoff and championship history were played in cold-weather conditions. Eagles fans embrace the outdoor experience and all that it brings to the game."
Lurie said he definitely will explore the possibility of a Philadelphia Super Bowl, but acknowledged that warm-weather cities or cities with a domed stadium always are going to have the upper hand.
"Hosting the Super Bowl here in Philadelphia would be a great experience for our fans," he said. "We certainly have an outstanding combination of assets, including an expansive infrastructure built to host large events and conventions. With that said, we realize that warm-weather options may always have the advantage when it comes to hosting the Super Bowl. However, if the league supports more northern games, we would pursue."
Larry Needle, the executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress, also wondered how much the vote really opens the door for cities like Philadelphia to host a Super Bowl.
"My sense is that this is probably more the exception than the rule in terms of the possibility of going to cold-weather sites in the future," Needle said. "But if the opportunity presents itself, we as a city in terms of our media market, our infrastructure, our hospitality package, our geography, we have a tremendous amount to offer and would be a tremendous Super Bowl host.
"The thermometer probably is going to play a key role in most years. But we would be very excited to partner with the Eagles and the city and the state to look at a bid if we think it's realistic."
The NFL instituted a rule years ago that said cities with open-air stadiums had to have an average mean temperature of at least 50 degrees to bid for a Super Bowl. But it clearly ignored that rule yesterday. New York's average February temperature is 40 degrees.
"I like doing things for the first time," said Jets owner Woody Johnson, who collaborated with the Giants on the Super Bowl bid. "Having the first Super Bowl outside in a cold-weather environment here, it couldn't be a more appropriate location.