Thursday, January 30, 2014

No division rivals means rainbows and unicorns for Mara, Johnson

You know things have really gotten desperate during Super Bowl week when you hear New York Jets' owner Woody Johnson talk like his team actually had a chance of playing in this Super Bowl...

Mara (L) smiles knowingly about the Patriots in the Super Bowl
In fact, the owners of both of New Jersey's football franchises crawled out of their skyboxes high above the turf at MetLife Stadium earlier this week to declare, en mass, how much it sucked having teams other than their own occupying their practice facilities this week.

Acting as co-hosts for the gala Super Bowl experience at an upscale news conference in uptown Manhattan, New York Giants' owner John Mara hooked up with Johnson to openly lament the hard luck times that their teams are going through - and the moving soliloquy had almost reached it's blubbering zenith when some evil bastard of a bored beat writer brought up the "P" word.

"Are you relieved that the Patriots aren't playing this week?" came a voice from somewhere close to back of the room.

Tears welled up in Johnson's eyes while Mara broke out the quashed stogie left over from after lunch and lit it, the smoke billowing out from beneath a satisfied smile - while the Jets' owner had managed to slip into the fetal position underneath the podium, sucking on his thumb between bouts of sobbing and dry heaves...

Mara wasn't touching that question, but appeared to be enjoying his counterpart's breakdown enormously - though once Johnson regained his composure somewhat, he managed to deflect the question with a quick "Rather not have a team in your division".  Even Mara himself had earlier remarked that "It could have been worse", taken to mean he was thankful that it wasn't an NFC East rival in his practice facility.

Why this matters, no one seems to know - nor does anyone recognize the voice of inquiry, but the bookmakers in Vegas has the smart money on either New York Post sensationalist scribe Bart Hubbuch or Boston Globe resident plagiarist Ron Borges, though there's late money coming in on former Patriots' beat writer and current NFL.Com antagonist Albert Breer.

Mara gave Johnson a xanax and a blanket, then took control of the press conference from that point on, happily rambling on about the weather in Chicago and the lack of hotels in Wisconsin, speaking in regard to other cold-weather cities that he and his fellow owners would be willing to approve as sites for future Super Bowls...but tactfully sidestepped Foxborough altogether.

Which was smart - and he's right.

Gillette Stadium is a fine venue for a football game - in September.  Any later in the year than that and you just have to hope for the best.  There's a reason why "The Razor" has become one of the best homefield advantages in the National Football League: The weather sucks, the stadium is out in the middle of a swampy nowhere and fans wearing colors other than the Blue and Silver of the Patriots are openly mocked.

A village of 45,000 nestled between downtown Boston thirty miles to the north and Providence, Rhode Island 25 miles to the south, Foxborough would be a logistical nightmare - 1-95 the only major thoroughfare that services the stadium.  It's hosted it's share of AFC Championship games, but the Super Bowl is an entirely different animal.

The future of cold weather-site Super Bowls is riding on how well things go this weekend, and with the weather forecasters cooperating, it looks like Woody, John and Roger might just pull this off.

"I think it's important to have an outside Super Bowl," Johnson said later, "I don't want to use the word 'no-brainer,' but we've had 47 of these indoors and in the South. It's about time we played a Super Bowl in conditions, the way the game is routinely played."

Regardless, perhaps the NFL should just keep the Super Bowl at the traditional venues, places like the Rose Bowl or Sun Life Stadium, someplace warm where people actually want to visit - but no more Domes.  A championship game should be played outdoors in the weather, just not in cold weather...

...and certainly not involving the Patriots, because any Super Bowl without Bill Belichick and his Sons of Liberty is a success, at least in Woody Johnson's mind.

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