EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - It's not exactly a shock that one of Eli Manning's great professional highlights was the Giants' NFC Championship Game victory in Green Bay in the 2007 postseason. The Giants defeated the Packers in overtime to advance to Super Bowl XLII, where they upset New England and won the NFL title.
But Manning happily recalls the game not only because it was one of the most significant triumphs of his career, but because it was played in a wind chill that was 23-below zero at kickoff.
"It's one of my all-time favorite games," Manning said today. "Not just because it was the NFC Championship Game. It was being in Green Bay, playing a game in negative 20 degrees. All those factors make a game special. The NFC Championship Game can be played anywhere. It can be played in New York, it can be played in Green Bay. Why can't the Super Bowl be played in a cold weather atmosphere? They say there's a chance of a blizzard. There's a chance of a blizzard in an NFC Championship Game. Those experiences make a game more special, they make it memorable. They make it memorable for players and for fans. Friends of mine who went to the Super Bowl and went to that game in Green Bay still talk about the Green Bay game more than the Super Bowl."
If the Giants have their way, football fans will have an opportunity to enjoy a similar cold weather experience at a Super Bowl. Okay, it probably won't be that cold. But the Giants and Jets, co-owners of the beautiful New Meadowlands Stadium, today formally submitted their bid to the NFL and to the league's other 30 owners to bring Super Bowl XLVIII to their joint home in February 2014. (In December, the NFL told the Giants and Jets they could bid on the Super Bowl despite a requirement that host stadiums have a minimum temperature of 50 degrees or roofs.) If the league's owners vote at their meeting in Dallas on May 25 to play the game in the new 82,500-seat stadium, it would be the first Super Bowl played in a cold-weather, outdoor venue.
With that in mind, the bid is formally titled, "Make Some History."
"It would be great for the NFL," Giants president John Mara said. "It's the biggest game in the world, so why not have it on the biggest stage in the world?"
"Football's greatest game should … receive the full star treatment," Mark Lamping, the CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium, said at a stadium news conference today at which owners Mara and Steve Tisch of the Giants and Woody Johnson of the Jets formally signed the bid.
The metropolitan area is often cold and snowy in February. But that's of little concern to those who believe football's biggest game should be played in the nation's largest metropolitan area.
"Sports fans, and especially football fans, are not intimidated by weather," Lamping said.
"It's not going to be as cold as it was in Green Bay," Mara said.
And as Johnson pointed out, "One thing we know how to do in New York and New Jersey is deal with snow."
Also attending the news conference were Manning and Ottis Anderson, a two-time Super Bowl winner with the Giants and the MVP of Super Bowl XXV. The Jets were represented by quarterback Mark Sanchez, center Nick Mangold and former running back Curtis Martin.
The New York/New Jersey metropolitan area is competing with South Florida and Tampa to host the 2014 Super Bowl. If none of the three cities receives 75% of the vote (24 of the 32 owners) on the first ballot, the bid with the fewest votes is eliminated and the winner will be declared by simple majority on the second ballot. The Giants and Jets will vote yes, so if they reach round two, they must convince 15 other owners to side with them.
"Score at the bottom of the first, 2-0," Tisch quipped.
For many years, Wellington Mara counted the NFC votes and Kansas City's Lamar Hunt tallied the AFC ballots when the owners met to choose Super Bowl sites. Since their fathers passed away, John Mara and Clark Hunt have assumed those duties.
"They told me they're not going to let me do that this year," Mara said. "I don't take anything for granted. As someone who has counted the votes over the years I've seen a lot of people change their minds. We still have a lot of convincing to do with different owners. We think we have a compelling bid. We think it makes all the sense in the world to play this game.
"(The weather) is the only concern (of the owners). They love New York, they love the attraction of having the game here and all the events you can do here. Some have expressed concern about the weather. But I think most of them are going to be okay with that. There are going to be a few that we're never going to convince. But all we need is 15 more votes."
The next three Super Bowls will be played in Dallas, Indianapolis and New Orleans.
The stadiums in those three cities have domes. The New Meadowlands Stadium does not. But that's what makes the Giants' and Jets' bid so attractive. So many of the greatest games in NFL history were played in frigid or inclement weather, including the Ice Bowl in Lambeau Field, the New England-Oakland playoff game in 2001 (best remembered for the application of the Tuck Rule) and, yes, the 2007 NFC Championship Game between the Giants and the Packers. A Super Bowl played just a few miles from midtown Manhattan would join that pantheon of memorable games.
"It's a chance to make history," Johnson said. "It would be the biggest event ever in New York and New Jersey."
"Playing a Super Bowl here would be such a unique experience," Tisch said. "There would be worldwide curiosity leading to worldwide viewership. It would be the first (cold weather Super Bowl) and there's always excitement about the first. I think the players would be very, very excited about playing if the weather is not perfect."
Both the current and former players agreed.
"I played in two Super Bowls, one in California and one in Florida," Anderson said. "I think it would be great to (have Super Bowl) where you see the steam and see the breath coming out, that's what excites you as a fan. As a player who played the game, you enjoyed the challenge. As a Giants fan and a Giants player, this is the greatest place in the world to have it."
Of course, that would be true if the Giants were to play in the Super Bowl on their home field.
"That would be a dream come true," Manning said. "That's the ultimate goal, every year, to get to the Super Bowl. This year, we hope to be in Dallas. But in 2014, if we have an opportunity to play in our home stadium, it would be perfect. And if it was a Giants-Jets game, that would be a lot of excitement. New York would be rockin' that weekend, for sure. That year, there would be extra motivation to try to get to the Super Bowl and play one in your home stadium. Just to have that feeling, to win one in your home stadium, would be pretty awesome."
A Super Bowl could pump as much as $500 million into the New York/New Jersey area businesses.
"I think the benefits to the region and to the local economy is what makes this so compelling," Mara said. "And let's face it, it does add a certain amount of buzz and excitement to the stadium. We're opening the building this year. It's an opportune time to do this."
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