On Jan. 1, 1987, a kid named David Clingerman knocked on my door with a surprise. "I've got two tickets for this Sunday's NFC Divisional playoff game at Giants Stadium," he said. "My dad and I can't use them. For $40, they're yours."
Dave was a guy I liked and trusted. He told me he desperately wanted to go to the game, but that his family had a prior commitment. He said he was jealous of me; that he would die to attend; that nothing beats the in-the-flesh action of NFL football.
I was 14 and had never been to an NFL game. So I called my dad to the door. "Pop," I said, "can we go to this? Please, please, please." I explained to my dad that here was the opportunity of a lifetime; that we would never forget the father-son bonding experience of a Giants-49ers playoff battle. He hemmed and hawed for a moment, then agreed to fork over the $40. "Only," he said, "because I love you."
Stories like this are supposed to end poetically. My dad and I toasting Coca-Colas as Lawrence Taylor, Joe Morris, Phil Simms and Co. roll toward the Super Bowl. It's supposed to be the stuff Mitch Albom books are made of; the gooey connection between two people brought together by the splendor that is sports. (Cue: Boy Meets Girl's Waiting for a Star to Fall).
Instead, Dad and I left midway through the third quarter. His fingers were numb. My toes were worse. At one point, the wind tore the upper lip from my face. I seem to recall the temperature dropping to -450.
"Never again," Dad moaned on the drive home.
I nodded. "Never," I said. "Never, ever."
Nearly 2 ½ decades later, I have kept my word. I haven't attended another cold-weather NFL game. Never, ever will I ever attend another cold-weather football game.
Never, ever should the Super Bowl come to New York/New Jersey.
I know ... I know -- New York is the greatest city in the world, and why shouldn't it have a turn hosting the greatest sporting event in the world, and the clubs will be hoppin' and the celebs will be A-list and Broadway and Times Square and the Statue of Liberty and Derek Jeter and Edward Koch and ...
No, no, no.
A couple of months ago, when the NCAA began debating whether to expand the March Madness field from 64 to 96 teams, I thought I was witnessing the dumbest decision in modern organized athletics. No longer.
Bringing the Super Bowl to New York would be dumb on steroids. First off, in January and February it is cold here. Secondly, in January and February it is freezing here. Thirdly, in January and February it is arctic here. Absolutely, positively arctic.
As a columnist, I'm supposed to follow up my opening-line of reasoning with other arguments. But in this case, I don't need any. New York -- my hometown -- is a fantastic city, and the new 82,500-seat stadium sounds like it'll be wonderful. When Woody Johnson, the owner of the Jets, says, "It's time for the biggest game in football to be played on the biggest stage in the world," I believe his intentions are pure enough.
But, well, the weather. From start-to-finish, Super Bowl weeks are meant to take place in warm environments. Miami. San Diego. Arizona. The parties should involve fountains and beach motifs and Kardashian sisters in embarrassingly skimpy outfits. The media days are required to occur beneath a bright sun, so that questions like "How long have you been a black quarterback?" won't reverberate off the steely walls of, say, the Javits Convention Center. The rest of the nation is supposed to watch enviously from afar, jealous over the tans and the convertibles.
For the game itself, meanwhile, cold weather is a killer. Does the NFL really want its calling card matchup to be plagued by, say, snow-caused sloppiness; by passes slipping out of the hands of quarterbacks; by halfbacks and wide receivers pulling off pratfalls atop the ice. Does it want to show the world a live shot of a half-empty stadium, with 41,250 people having retreated to the heated, mall-like concourses.
If so, give David Clingerman a call.
I'm betting he's still interested.
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