Heaven knows I've got my beefs with the NFL, not the least of which is this whole no-tailgating-at-the-Super-Bowl thing. If the suits who run this show aren't careful, someday they'll make going to an NFL game every bit as much fun as going to a board meeting.
Then watch how fast professional croquet puts it in the shade.
I am, however, in agreement with the Shield on one thing. The NFL thinks playing this year's Super Bowl outdoors in the Meadowlands is going to be totally fantabulous, and so do I.
Wednesday, for instance, an NFL VP was heard to say, in so many words, "Let it snow." His reasoning: Because it would make the whole thing sort of romantic.
Amen to that. And, yes, I'm fully aware I'm in the minority here.
I know most people who've gotten used to the NFL-as-video-game can't conceive of a Super Bowl impacted by actual, you know, elements. Yet it's the elements that have always to some degree defined the game. Simply because at a certain point the game became something else doesn't mean that's what it should be.
Imperfection is and always has been part of football's charm, much as we've forgotten that. Given the choice between Joe Kapp throwing the football end over end into an arctic breeze and Drew Brees performing Arena Ball plastic surgery in the Superdome, I'll take Kapp every time. Snow whitening the top of his helmet and all.
The novelty of the latter, after all, tends to wear off. Pretty soon you're yawning, stretching and saying, "Yeah, that's great, Drew. Now let's see you do it in a football game."
There's a reason why the most memorable NFL game in history is the Ice Bowl, and that's because it was man vs. the elements instead of just man vs. a stat sheet. One had actual drama that sprang organically from its surroundings; the other is just hothouse drama created by hothouse conditions.
And so, yes, count me among those who can't wait for this year's Super Bowl. I'm hoping for snow. I'm hoping for "conditions." I'm hoping receivers have to tuck their hands in their pants, the way Bob Hayes did in the Ice Bowl, and running backs slip and slide and muck their way to yards, and the wind occasionally makes all those perfect hothouse passes dive into the frozen ground or sail off into the limited visibility.
That would be cool. That would be real. That, by God, would be football.