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home : blogs_old : hang time September 15, 2014

Hang Time
By Steve Stockmar
Daily Courier sports editor Steve Stockmar gives you the cheat sheet for today’s top sports stories.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Super Bowl's road from snow to ... London

By Steve Stockmar

Bill Kostroun/The Associated Press
In this Feb. 9, 2013, file photo, snow is piled high in a parking lot outside of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The NFL never really shuts down. It kept rolling long after the lights came back on after a 37-minute delay at the Super Bowl, right into a new season that will kick off in less than two weeks and end with an outdoor Super Bowl in New Jersey.

By now you've already seen the countdown for shopping days left until Christmas. On Monday, talk turned instead to anticipating how many days are left until Super Bowl XLVIII this coming February in New Jersey.

The newest edition of the 197-year-old Farmer's Almanac hit newsstands Monday, and with it came titillating details about predictions for February's Super Bowl; the first outdoor setting in cold weather in the game's history.

Farmer's talks about the upcoming winter being "bitterly cold" and "biting cold," and predicts that the big game at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands will be a messy "Storm Bowl."

Perfect ammo for NFL purists to blast the decision to stage the game outdoors in a cold market. Equally perfect for fans caught up in the fun to imagine a late fourth-quarter drive coming down to a field goal attempt in a blizzard.

The debate about outdoor elements impacting America's biggest game of the year is under way.

But ... this is not about snow or cold at the Super Bowl. It has everything to do with changing our collective brains' muscle memory about Super Bowl tradition. This has everything to do with a future pitch to stage a Super Bowl in London, England.

First, think like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Think chess. Think 10 steps ahead.

We don't need the Farmer's or any other predictive almanac to know that London very soon will have an NFL franchise on its own shores. We practically know which one.

Last August, Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan and the NFL announced that the Jaguars would play one home game a year in London for four consecutive years starting this season. As recently as this past June, Goodell said the league could ask the Jaguars to play two games a year in London. "That's very important to us," Khan told The Associated Press this summer. "I think everyone needs to understand playing games in London is very, very important for Jacksonville, it's very important to this franchise."

Makes sense for Jacksonville. The Jags in 2012 ranked a paltry 20th in home attendance. Their per-game average draw on the road was dead last. They could use a boost from a market - like London - dying for NFL mania as Jaguar love cools in the U.S.

Makes sense for Khan. Just last month he bought the London soccer club Fulham of the Premier League. He knows and appreciates the London sports market.

Marrying the two - the NFL and London - makes perfect sense with a matchmaker like the Jaguars.

Which brings us back to this February's cold weather Super Bowl, the first of its kind.

Goodell and the NFL knew full well that an outdoor, cold weather market could threaten the game and its outcome. They knew it would trigger conversations about bucking Super Bowl tradition beloved by ardent diehards.

Imagine Goodell pitching a Super Bowl played overseas?

That's the long-term goal here, make no mistake.

Once NFL fans forgo the tradition of ideal weather in their habitual Super Bowl ways, they'll be more open to an even greater Super change. Like, not even playing it in America.

Give it a few more years, but that pitch is coming.

Cold weather and snow is just the storm before the storm.

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