By DJ Gallo
Super Bowl XLVIII in New York City – or North Jersey, if you prefer – has hit the American small talk jackpot. By putting the game at MetLife Stadium in early February, people can now chit-chat about sports and weather – our two favorite topics of conversation when trying to pass the time with a co-worker or neighbor we don’t know very well.
It’s no mistake the NFL is king. They’re dominating the water cooler.
But after this Super Bowl is over, there are no other cold weather cities scheduled to host the game. It’s back to retreads like Glendale, Ariz., and Houston.
With all the extra attention an outdoor, cold weather Super Bowl has given the league, the NFL should commit to making the host city a major part of the Super Bowl story every year.
The other domeless NFL cities deserves a shot first. Denver, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, Tennessee, Carolina, Philadelphia, Washington, Kansas City, Oakland, New England, Buffalo, Green Bay. Give them all a Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl has already been hosted by Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Detroit. Those cities are not exactly known as international vacation destinations. Yet all three did just fine hosting American sport’s biggest event. What does Indianapolis have that Nashville or Charlotte doesn’t? You put a roof on your stadium and you get a Super Bowl? That’s not exactly fair.
Goodell can’t claim he wasn’t playing favorites with New York and then have it go down as the only cold weather Super Bowl in history. Every cold weather city needs to be thrown into the rotation with the typical warm weather Super Bowl hosts. If people think Super Bowl XLVIII’s forecasted temperatures in the mid-30s with a 50-percent chance of snow showers counts as a winter Super Bowl, wait ‘til they get a load of Green Bay or Buffalo in early February. Let’s see Goodell sit outside for a game when it’s zero degrees with blowing snow and the scary sister from “Frozen” is doing the halftime show. That would be a “cold weather” Super Bowl people would remember forever. Peyton Manning needing a jacket on the sidelines in North Jersey is nothing.
Giving every NFL town the game shouldn’t be the end of it, though. Since Goodell is so smitten with growing the league in London, why not have a Super Bowl there? “But that will make NFL fans travel all the way to London to see the biggest game of the season!” No. No, it wouldn’t. What NFL fans do you know who go to Super Bowls? The average ticket price for the Super Bowl this year is more than $4,000 a seat. The Super Bowl is not a game for the common man or the common fan. Any Seattle “12th Man” representatives you see at Super Bowl XLVIII are very likely executives at Microsoft or Boeing. Four-grand to them is a reasonable price tag for dinner and drinks.
Attending the Super Bowl is for people who can afford $4,000 on a single sports game. If you can afford that, you can also afford a flight to London. On your private jet. Your private jet that probably already makes regular trips over there for Grey Poupon and Toblerone runs and such.
For the rest of us, it doesn’t matter where the Super Bowl is actually played. As long as it gets beamed to our TVs in our living rooms and the game is broken up with commercials featuring talking animals and babies, and the halftime show is something we can call “the best ever!” or “the worst ever!” on social media, put it anywhere. Put it in New York. Put it in Green Bay. Put it in London. Put it on the moon. Put it in Omaha.
Yes, Omaha. Omaha! Omaha!
The town made famous by Peyton Manning. (And, before that, according to some quick research on Wikipedia: Con-Agra Foods and the Henry Doorly Zoo. So, Peyton Manning.)
Why shouldn’t Omaha be given a Super Bowl? It has hotels. It has a stadium that can fit 35,000-plus. The Super Bowl is about television. Do TV trucks and satellites work in Omaha? Yep. It’s settled then. Give Omaha a Super Bowl. Omaha! Omaha!
Omaha, San Antonio, Des Moines, Boise, Lexington. Imagine the goodwill Goodell would create by bringing the Super Bowl to the people. “Look! We care about all of America! We’re remembering the sport’s roots! Aren’t we nice, generous people? Would people this nice lie to you about concussions? Of course not! Hooray, NFL!”
We also don’t have to end it with small and mid-sized American cities hosting Super Bowls. Most of our biggest and best football stadiums are in college towns. Bring the game there. The NHL got a lot of publicity for putting this year’s Winter Classic in the Big House. Imagine all the buzz the NFL would generate for 110,000 people watching the Super Bowl. Or put it in Beaver Stadium for 107,000 to see. That might be the closest the Eagles ever get to a Super Bowl. Or stick the Super Bowl in an SEC stadium like LSU’s Tiger Stadium or Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium. Doing that might go a long way towards convincing a few Southern football fans that the NFL plays a higher level than the SEC. Maybe.
Or just go all-in, embrace the fact that the Super Bowl has become a huge advertising festival disguised as a football game and play the Super Bowl on a Hollywood soundstage. Surround the “field” with a green screen and let companies project ads to us even during the action. “Nice touchdown, but I need to run to the store real fast. That CGI fan in the Coca-Cola t-shirt really got me thirsty for a Coke!”
A soundstage Super Bowl is probably still a few years away. For now, let’s all agree to push for Super Bowls in other cold weather NFL cities. And also in towns like Omaha.
DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com and has written for ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, The Onion and Comedy Central. He has appeared on SportsCenter, ESPNews, and G4 and is a frequent radio guest and published author. Follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloEtc, @sportspickle and @thatdjgallo.
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