I still think it’s a bit ridiculous New Jersey will host the Super Bowl. I don’t think I want the NFL’s ultimate game decided by a meteorological event. Think about the classic Super Bowls of the past 15 years or so. Would below-zero temperatures or snow have added anything to the Giants’ victories over the Patriots or Pittsburgh’s win over the Cardinals? One of the worst Super Bowls ever came in a weather game, when the Colts defeated the Bears in the rain, in a game best remembered for Rex Grossman’s incompetence.
But then a Sunday like yesterday happens and it seems that every NFL game should be played in the snow, not just the Super Bowl.
Snow games bring NFL fans together like nothing else. Regardless of rooting interests, everyone likes seeing the snow cover a field. Maybe it brings everyone back to the snow football games of their childhood. Snow games have an added benefit: They make the game seem less-dangerous. In today’s world, it’s impossible watch an NFL game without cringing two or three times when a player takes a hard hit to the head. It forces us to think about what the player will be like in a week and in 20 years. And injuries certainly still happen in the snow — just look at Adrian Peterson. But it’s so fluffy! It’s fun watching running backs tip toe to the line of scrimmage or quarterbacks gingerly step back into the pocket. Every quarterback transforms into Joe Webb. When the players get tackled by six guys it actually looks sort of fun, like the old King of the Hill days on the playground.
It’s impossible for coaches to look dignified in that weather, shattering the seriousness all of them take to the sideline each Sunday. The snow gathers ludicrously on their heads or a snowflake lingers on a mustache. They stand seemingly frozen in place, as if someone’s covered them in snow up to their waist and packed it real tight. All of those plans they spent 18 hours a day putting together Monday through Saturday become worthless. There are no well-oiled machines in the snow, no precise routes. The hurry-up offenses disappear as the players approach the line of scrimmage with caution, oftentimes with only a vague idea of which yardline they’re actually on.
Obviously that doesn’t mean offenses can’t thrive. Nobody stopped anybody in the second half of the Eagles-Lions game or in the final two minutes of the Ravens-Vikings game. In those conditions, if an offensive player can get some momentum going they can leave defenders rolling on the turf with a simple cut in the snow.
Watching the players in those games operate against hapless defenses again reminded me of the snow game we played on a snow day my senior year of high school. My friend Mike wore illegal boots that worked like shoes and ran around without a care in the world out at the football field played out at a farm. To this day Mike denies gaining a competitive advantage with his dainty boots while the rest of us stumbled around in the types of footwear real Minnesotans wear, but any neutral observer would have agreed with our objections. Roger Goodell might have suspended him for them.
Still, Mike’s shoes aren’t the only reason I can still remember that game nearly 21 years later. I remember it for the weather — because as Sunday showed once again, there’s nothing like football in the snow.