The Wussification Of The NFL
Where is the line?
It's right there in Philadelphia, buried under a foot of snow that forced cancellation of Sunday night's Eagles/Vikings game.
The NFL deemed the conditions too dangerous and called the game around noon--more than seven hours before kickoff and well before the powder started falling in earnest.
NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth--doing the pre-game for a contest his network was no longer airing--raised the question about where the line now is for weather-induced NFL cancellations.
Is 12 inches the magic number? What about eight, or even six, if it lands somewhere that isn't used to snow, like Tennessee or Carolina?
There IS a precedent: hurricanes scuttled games in the past, and there were cases where thunderstorms truncated other contests amid lightening dangers. Of course there's the situation in Minnesota where the Metrodome roof collapsed earlier this month. The league HAD to cancel the Twin Cities clash, but at what point does the NFL forget about it's we-play-no-matter-what mantra?
Some of the league's most memorable games were played under spectacularly bad conditions, among them the 1967 Ice Bowl in Green Bay. The NFL championship game was played despite -13 degree temps and wind chills in the -30's. Then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle didn't pull the chute. Will his successor, Roger Goddell, cancel a game if and when it's that cold again in another NFL venue?
The New York Times reminds us that the league, in it's infinite wisdom, will be staging the Super Bowl in the New Jersey Meadowlands three years from now, the same Meadowlands where they are now coping with blizzard conditions as I write this the Monday after Christmas. It begs the question: what if?
Buying an NFL ticket is no guarantee that you'll be sitting in sunshine amid temps in the 80's, especially when the calendar turns to the months ending in "er". And, shouldn't it be the seat holder deciding whether or not they'll be heading to the stadium or occupying the Lazy Boy? Those who want to save us from ourselves will eagerly point out that playing a game in such conditions is an unnecessary threat to public safety, but have you ever walked through a shopping mall or movie theater around here on a snow day? School superintendents and bosses may cancel class and work but that doesn't keep folks indoors.
Playing in the elements makes football unique. It challenges players and coaches. It gives those who actually went a story to tell for the rest of their lives. It gives fans indelible memories.
We live in a time where the threat of two inches of snow has us crowding supermarkets, stocking up on the basics, canceling Christmas concerts and shelving plans to patronize restaurants. The mere threat of fresh powder triggers wall-to-wall television coverage. And now, a big snowstorm scuttles an NFL game.
Where is the line? For now, it's in Philadelphia. Where will The Shield draw it next?