IT WAS MIDWAY through the second quarter and we had been sitting out in a driving snowstorm for nearly an hour-and-a-half watching our beloved Eagles stumble through a woeful first half. Someone in the row above me said, "Gov, you have 5 inches of snow on the brim of your hat." I checked, and it was true. It was a wet snow and our clothes were soaked through. The temperature was well below freezing and the cold and wetness combined to make it a bone-chilling environment. The storm was so intense that we could barely make out what was happening on the field.
It was wonderful!
The fans were having a great time. We were imbued with a great esprit de corps, a pioneer feeling. We were hanging in there, trying to rally the Birds, and our persistence paid off as Shady romped over the Lions in the second half. It was an experience none of us will ever forget and we will recount for years to come. Football in the snow - beautiful! Football as it was meant to be.
As the game went on, I was overwhelmed by texts, emails and tweets (yes, I have reluctantly joined the twitterverse), all making reference to the fateful "Joe Webb" game that the NFL postponed in 2010 because of a predicted 11-inch snowstorm. (Webb was the Vikings quarterback who starred in the makeup game on a Tuesday night.) Of course, that gave rise to my calling the cancellation further proof of the "wussification of America" which in turn led to the title of my book, "A Nation of Wusses."
What happened last Sunday confirmed my strong belief that it was wrong to have called off the Vikings game in 2010. The stated reason the NFL and the Eagles gave for canceling the game was the safety of the fans. They feared there would be accidents if the fans had to drive home with 11 inches of snow on the roads (which doesn't explain the inconsistency of selling fans quarts and quarts of beer before they hit the road to drive home).
Ironically, at the end of Sunday's game some areas had up to 9 inches of snow on the ground, and let the record show that there was not a single accident that befell any fan on their way home.
Naturally, all of this has gotten me and many others thinking about the Super Bowl to be held at the Meadowlands in February. Critics have wailed about playing this hallowed game in subfreezing temperatures or, even worse, a driving snowstorm. The game couldn't be played at a high level of skill and it would be unfair to make the fans endure such weather, they say. Again, tremendous inconsistency and hypocrisy from the critics. Doesn't the NFL hold many of its playoff games in cold-weather venues? If it's good enough for the crucial conference championship games, why is it unacceptable for the Super Bowl?
And isn't it true that some of the most memorable playoff games in NFL history were played in horrible conditions? Remember the "Tuck Bowl," when Adam Vinatieri kicked the tying and winning field goals through a blinding blizzard for the Patriots in 2002? Or the San Diego-Cincinnati 1981 AFC Championship Game, "The Freezer Bowl," when the wind chill index was minus-59 degrees? Or the most famous championship game ever played - the 1967 "Ice Bowl" between Dallas and Green Bay?
All that matters in my opinion is that both teams face the same conditions and have to adjust accordingly. Is it really any more of an even playing field for a team like the Saints to play a Super Bowl in a dome against a team that thrives on grinding games out in adverse conditions like the Patriots or the Chiefs (God forbid)? Football was never intended to be played inside, and the elements have always been a part of the game. So, man up everyone, and stop griping. If there's a blizzard on Super Bowl Sunday, the Eagles' experience in the "Snow Bowl" will give them a decisive advantage. It may be a little uncomfortable for the fans, but it will be a memory to last a lifetime.
There is one other benefit to playing the Super Bowl in bad-weather venues. As the great columnist Mike Barnicle suggested to me, doing so will probably discourage a lot of rich guys who never go to a regular-season game from attending the Super Bowl, and allow the real fans to get in to see their hometown team do battle in the ultimate football game!