Since 1932, when the NFL moved its championship game between the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans inside to Chicago Stadium, only one other game has been moved because of snow.
That came in 2010, when a regular-season game between Philadelphia and Minnesota was moved to Tuesday. A couple other games in Miami have been moved because of hurricane forecasts. A few others have been moved due to stadium issues that arose from snow storms, fires or earthquakes.
But in the 81 years and one month since the Bears and Spartans moved inside, only one other game has been changed due to snow with no extra stadium issues involved, like when the Metrodome collapsed a few years ago. And that Vikings-Eagles game in 2010 was a regular-season game, not the league’s most important day of the year with a massive television audience and advertising money that could match the GNP of a small country lined up.
Could the Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, get moved to another day because of weather? Sure. Also, you might get hit by lightning tomorrow. Your Powerball numbers might come up. Anything is possible.
The NFL presumably has contingency plans for all Super Bowls. But it doesn’t speak often about those plans if, say, an earthquake hits California when San Diego hosts a Super Bowl, at least not as much as it’s entertaining the possibility of moving this game because of winter conditions. Again, that has happened in the NFL all of once in more than 81 years.
But the NFL, by speaking often about the possibility, has created an odd panic about the situation.
“Super Bowl Saturday (or another day) a possibility if weather doesn’t cooperate,” a USA Today headline said.
“Super Bowl XLVIII: Date subject to change,” said a headline on the Chicago Tribune’s website.
“Super Bowl weather: What if this storm happens on game day?” the Star-Ledger asked when a snow storm rolled through the New York/New Jersey area earlier this week.
The NFL has kept this story alive by continuing to talk about contingency plans.
“We are advising teams to prepare in case a contingency plan goes into effect,” Eric Grubman, NFL vice president of business operations, told The Denver Post this week. “If there is a schedule change, both teams will be notified simultaneously in a conference call.”
The thing is, the NFL didn’t schedule this game for the North Pole. The Weather Channel’s 10-day forecast predicts a high of 36 degrees and a low of 27, with an 80 percent chance of precipitation, in the form of a wintry mix of rain and snow. Uncomfortable, sure. And it could mess with the game, as far as something like slowing down Denver’s offense. But is that enough to mess with the plans of everyone involved (including the audience at home, which was more than 108 million last year) to make it the second game changed due to winter weather in more than eight decades? Ummmm, no.
So why does the league want this very, very, very remote possibility alive as a story heading into its biggest event? A couple possibilities come to mind.
First, perhaps it thinks that this is “any publicity is good publicity.” There usually isn’t much issue in getting attention on the Super Bowl, but playing up the possibility of a massive storm might add to the intrigue of the unique venue.
“We are embracing the weather,” commissioner Roger Goodell said, according to the Sports XChange. “Football is played in the elements.”
The other possibility is the league is keeping alive the possibility of postponing the game because it figures weather will affect the game in some on-field way, but by getting everyone talking about the (very unlikely) worst-case scenario for two weeks, whatever does rain or snow on the Broncos and Seahawks on Feb. 2 won’t seem so bad. Hey, at least the game went on as scheduled, this cold weather Super Bowl idea was OK after all!
Or maybe officials just want to hold the “We told you this was a possibility!” card if that one in a million chance hits and the storm of the century comes through East Rutherford, N.J. at exactly the wrong time.
Just remember as you hear about contingency plans over the next week, that it would take a really rare storm for them to come into play – and even then one would assume if the teams can get to the stadium and the TV equipment works, they’ll play as planned.
Grubman told some outlets, including NorthJersey.com, that the game would have gone on as scheduled if it were earlier this week when 13 inches of snow fell on the area. So make your Super Bowl Sunday plans. If the game is moved due to weather, it will be because of something much more disruptive than anyone could reasonably predict right now.