The bitter Minnesota cold during the Vikings/Seahawks NFL playoff game last Sunday made for extremely uncomfortable conditions for players and attendees at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, but it was fun viewing for fans watching in the comfort of their living rooms.
Thank heavens the Vikings weren’t playing indoors at the old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. We wouldn’t have been able to see their frosty breaths or listen to commentators discuss how the cold was affecting the contest. Indoor gridiron games truly lack something primal, elemental, and essential. Football needs real grass, wind and rain, snow and mud.
Yes, I love watching football games where the elements are part of the story. Preferably snow, ice, sleet, and mud. Yes, I loved watching the Ice Bowl, where in 1967 the host Green Bay Packers beat the shivering Dallas Cowboys 21-17 for the NFL title. The temperature was 17 degrees below zero.
An even colder game, if you factor in the wind, was the San Diego at Cincinnati playoff game in January, 1982. Wind chill made it feel like 30 below zero. (The Bengals won to advance to the Super Bowl.)
You have to love snow. Like in 1982, when the Dolphins and Patriots were tied at 0-0 with less than five minutes to play in a Foxboro snowstorm. During a time-out before a field goal attempt, a stadium snowplow operator named Mark Henderson drove on to the snowy field to clear the area where John Smith’s kick would be spotted. The kick was good and the Pats won 3-0. Miami coach Don Shula is still mad about it, but the little snow plow/ploy holds a place of honor in Foxboro.
My favorite New England game of all time remains the Foxboro Stadium finale in January of 2002, when the Pats won a playoff game against Oakland. That was the Tom Brady “tuck” game, but what I really remember is all the snow, and Adam Vinatiari’s successful 45-yard field goal through the swirling flakes to send things to overtime.
Bring on foul football weather, especially for the playoffs. How about a soggy Super Bowl? SB 50 goes on Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Now while baseball’s Dodgers, Padres, and Angels are never rained out, it DOES rain in California in the winter. I’ve always longed for a Super Bowl where there is mud and rain. Let the heavens release downpours on the halftime show, which this year ironically features the British rock band COLDPLAY. Perfect!
(Prediction: The Patriots win the first-ever overtime Super Bowl game when Stephen Gostkowski kicks a 40-yard field goal in the rain.)
Soccer is played in all sorts of weather, especially high school championship matches, which invariably occur under freezing November skies. But for some reason baseball games just don’t happen if it rains. What’s up with that? Unlike soccer players, baseball players wear extra clothes and even caps—but when the rain starts, the umpire departs.
Hockey is generally an indoor sport, but the recent Winter Classics have been immensely popular. Sixty-eight thousand fans showed up at Gillette Stadium to see an outdoor contest between les Canadiens and the Bruins. Unfortunately, Montreal prevailed 4-1. If only there would have been a blizzard. How fun that would have been—maybe even for the fans in attendance.
Occasionally an indoor hockey game WILL be held up due to foggy conditions, which is cool.
Now as a basketball guy, I must admit that I pretty much avoided rain and mud while playing hoop. C’est la vie. But a proposal is in the works to have a basketball game—maybe a Celtics pre-season game—at Fenway Park, inspired, no doubt by the success of the Winter Classic. I’m all for it. Olympic basketball used to be played outdoors, after all.
So bring the parquet floor to Fenway and hope that it doesn’t rain.
But if the fog rolls in, just keep on playing!
Donald Trump and the United States Football League sued the NFL in 1986. Did they win the lawsuit? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on January 14 include NFL stars Brandon Meriweather (1985) and Hakeem Nicks (1989).
“The secret to college basketball success is to have eight great basketball players and four others who cheer like crazy.” —the late UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian
Trump and company technically prevailed in their anti-trust suit, which was based on a desire to have the USFL play in the fall, as opposed to the spring. The court awarded the plaintiffs $1, which was tripled to $3, as it was an anti-trust case. The USFL then folded and countless full-time and part-time jobs disappeared.
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at Plymouth State University and at NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.