Super Bowl Awards: Bests, worsts of 48

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4

Super Bowl XLVIII is in the books, and ESPN New York has a few awards to give out to the best and the worst performances of the week.

Least Appropriate Name: "Mass Transit Super Bowl." Considering that the most reliable modes of transportation were private cars and chartered buses, this didn't work out so well. A special razzberry goes to host committee CEO Al Kelly, who called the transit plan an “unprecedented success” six days before the game.

Warmest Welcome: The host committee planned for a cold winter's night, and provided a gift bag full of warm items for every fan, plus heating lamps scattered everywhere in MetLife Stadium. Even as the ice sculptures melted in the warmer temps, the effort was appreciated.

Biggest Security Fail: Remember 9/11 truthers? One of them got a ton of publicity by sneaking into Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith’s press conference. Bigger issue: How did a person with no ticket and no credential breach all that security?

Most Overblown Visual: Beneath the festive trappings, the toboggan run on "Super Bowl Boulevard" was just a big slide -- the kind you see at carnivals where you get the burlap sack to sit on -- plunked down in the middle of Times Square.

Best Musical Performance: Opera singer Renee Fleming took the National Anthem new heights. Her mastery over the difficult series of notes was impressive, and she didn’t overdo it like some less accomplished singers. Perfection.

Best Quote: Sometimes you just have to call it like you see it, and Peyton Manning didn’t like the wording of a question after his Broncos were thumped. "The word 'embarrassing' is an insulting word, to tell you the truth," Manning said.

Most Deserving MVP: Defensive players don’t usually get the credit, but linebacker Malcolm Smith, a former seventh-round pick, was the right call.

Pine Barrens Award: Chris Christie. The New Jersey governor was a big part of the planning, but mostly got lost during Super Week. When the scandal-mired Christie did hit Super Bowl Boulevard, he was booed. Later, when train issues overwhelmed Secaucus, there were a lot of jokes about political payback.

Wardrobe Malfunction Award: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who forgot to wear shirts. It was a much more gratuitous display of bare nipples than the fraction of a second that got Janet Jackson (but oddly, not Justin Timberlake) in so much trouble. The scandal should break any minute now, right?

That's all, folks. See you next year in Phoenix, unless there's a drought.

FanSpeak: Do it again?

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4

ESPN New York's Robin Lundberg hits the streets to ask New York-area fans if they'd want another Super Bowl in the Big Apple?

Rick Reilly breaks down everything we learned from the Seahawks' victory over the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl draws 111.5M viewers

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3

NEW YORK -- For the fourth time in five years, the Super Bowl has set a record for the most-watched television event in U.S. history, drawing 111.5 million viewers even though the Seattle Seahawks' 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos wasn't really competitive.

The ratings record is further evidence of how live events are becoming dependable and valuable properties for broadcast television at a time the audience is fragmenting and ratings for regular entertainment shows continue to fall.

"Big-event television is a great way for people to have a communal event, to talk about it socially and to talk about it as a group," said Bill Wanger, executive vice president for programming and research at Fox Sports. "You see that in the Super Bowl numbers of the past four or five years. They've just gone up to a different level."

The game also set standards for the most-streamed sports event online and, with 24.9 million tweets, the biggest U.S. live TV event on Twitter.

The Seattle victory eclipsed the 111.3 million viewers who watched the 2012 Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, according to the Nielsen company. Until last year's game dipped slightly to 108.7 million, the Super Bowl had set ratings records for the previous three years in a row.

(Read full post)

Snow foolin': NFL lucked out on the weather

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
SnowAP Photo/Julio CortezIf the Super Bowl were held just 12 hours later, there would be cold comfort for players and fans.
NEW YORK -- The NFL dodged a blizzard.

About eight hours after the Seattle Seahawks trounced the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, a storm warning for the New York and New Jersey region was in effect. It may not have been the textbook definition of a blizzard, but the snow fell quickly enough that by 8 a.m., city streets were a mess of slush and flights in and out of the three major airports began to be delayed or canceled.

Up to 10 inches are forecast in some places near MetLife Stadium, which had been a balmy 49 degrees at kickoff -- short of the record low for a Super Bowl by a full 10 degrees. It was literally the calm before the storm.

Fans who had celebrated with the Seahawks or commiserated with the Broncos are facing the prospect of an unexpectedly extended stay as travel plans were upended. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged on Monday that the last leg of hosting this Super Bowl is to get people back home.

"Obviously our work continues today as we work to get our fans back out of town and back home," Goodell said at a morning news conference for Seattle coach Pete Carroll and Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith.

If this storm had happened a day earlier, it may not have canceled the game, but road traffic to the stadium could have been delayed. Even on Monday, spinouts and tow trucks peppered area highways. On Sunday those accidents would have caused significant problems for fans trying to get to and from MetLife.

But that didn’t happen, and the truth is that things went pretty smoothly as long as you didn’t opt to get to the game by train. New Jersey Transit riders faced huge bottlenecks at the Secaucus junction and at the stadium after the game, turning a short trip into a two-hour ordeal for some.

Ultimately, the NFL was prepared for a weather event that didn’t happen -- at least not on Super Bowl Sunday. The New York/New Jersey host committee may even be drafting its next Super Bowl bid right now.

"New York is the center of the world as far as I'm concerned, and there's no reason we shouldn't be hosting these mega-events," committee co-chair and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson said in October. And New York Giants co-owner John Mara told ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor on Sunday that he wants to do it all again.

But that doesn’t mean another cold weather Super Bowl is a good idea. An analogy sent my way went like this: You can ride around in a car without a seat belt and not get into an accident, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart.

At some point, the odds will catch up with you. In the Northeast, the odds are plenty good for snow in February, according to Bill Evans, a meteorologist with WABC-TV.

“These types of storms are common to the New York City area in February and timing is crucial,” Evans said on Monday. “Sometimes we do not have the lead time that we did with this particular storm. All winter long this year we have these storms blowing up with great intensity with sometimes less than 48 hours notice on some of the models.”

Two more snow events may be heading to the region later this week.

“The timing was very fortuitous for the Super Bowl," Evans said. "Mother Nature is obviously a football fan.”

This time around, anyway.

Now be sure to check with your carrier, and good luck getting home.

NFL to review train station fiasco

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3

NEW YORK -- After all the anticipation of a mass transit Super Bowl, thousands of Super Bowl attendees were stuck waiting for New Jersey Transit trains hours after Sunday's game ended.

The New York/New Jersey Host Committee underestimated by half the number of riders who would use the train to get to the game, and those 28,000 strained capacity and set a record for single-day traffic on the line.

"We've got a couple of things that we will review and obviously try to improve on," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said before he introduced Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at Monday morning's news conference.

NFL executive vice president Eric Grubman addressed specific questions after the news conference.

"When something is done for the first time, you don't really know what's going to happen," he said.

Grubman provided similar postgame comments after the blackout in New Orleans and a construction fiasco that meant seats weren't installed in Dallas.

"For the people who were inconvenienced and delayed, it was no doubt very frustrating," Grubman said. "Probably there was anxiety because people's dreams are to get to the Super Bowl when they want to get to the Super Bowl and how they want to get to the Super Bowl.

"But if you look at the big picture of the NY/NJ presentation, I think it is one part among a very big picture that was terrific."

Early last week, the host committee was asked about the Secaucus Junction. It has faced crowding before and after regular-season games, and double-decker buses were brought in to provide the extra capacity needed.

It turns out the NFL expected many more people to arrive by charter bus. The league had 11,000 parking passes for cars and saw 12,000 fans arrive via presold Fan Express shuttles. With 1,100 bus permits sold, Grubman said the numbers added up to the 80,000 fans expected on Sunday.

(Read full post)


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Seattle Seahawks always talk about the power of 12 -- their fabled "12th man."

They took it to a new -- and quirky -- level in Super Bowl XLVIII. Check it out:

The Seahawks took a 2-0 lead on a safety that occurred only 12 seconds into the game, the fastest score in Super Bowl history.

With exactly 12 minutes remaining in the first half, running back Marshawn Lynch scored on a 1-yard run, making it 15-0.

Hold on, it gets better.

Percy Harvin opened the second half with an 87-yard touchdown on a kickoff return -- only 12 seconds into the quarter.

Informed of the statistical oddity, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll smiled and replied, "That's what I'm talking about!"

Carroll went on to praise the Seahawks' 12th man, crediting their loud fans with influencing the game -- specifically, the miscommunication by Peyton Manning and his center on the botched shotgun snap that resulted in the safety.

Oh, yeah, there's another "12" that Seahawks fans will enjoy.

It was Manning's 12th postseason loss -- a new NFL record.

(Read full post)

Photo: Super Bowl ice sculptures melting

February, 2, 2014
Feb 2
Super Bowl logo Kieran Darcy/ESPNNewYorkAl Gore will love this.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Super Bowl XLVIII is officially an upset, and the game hasn't even kicked off yet.

The temperature is practically balmy for early February in the New York metropolitan area -- so warm, in fact, that several ice sculptures outside MetLife Stadium are melting. The mercury reached 56 degrees earlier Sunday, and it's currently 52. We're expecting 46 degrees at game time with a slight chance of rain.

Now we wait to see whether Peyton Manning melts under pressure or leads his Denver Broncos to a championship.

Fans collapse at overcrowded station

February, 2, 2014
Feb 2

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Mass Transit Super Bowl lived up to its name on Super Bowl Sunday, with a record 27,800 riders transported to MetLife Stadium via New Jersey Transit trains as of 5:56 p.m.

The turnout was felt at Secaucus Junction, where several people were said to have collapsed while waiting in long lines. Emergency medical workers were forced to push their way through the overheated crowd to treat people at the New Jersey train station, it was earlier reported.

New Jersey Transit spokesperson John Durso Jr. said Monday that reports of collapsing passengers were exaggerated, no calls for medical attention were made, and no police reports were filed.

The long lines caused a standstill in front of airport-style security machines that could not handle the crowd volume. People were squeezed together in an enclosed stairwell.

"There was an earlier issue with a number of trains which arrived at the same time that screening commenced and that delayed passengers from deboarding at the station," William J. Smith, senior public information officer for NJT, said in an email.

At no points were the screening procedures waived at the station for those passengers going to the stadium, said Smith, who noted the previous record for riders in a single day was 22,000 for a U2 concert in 2009.

Following the game, a 43-8 Seahawks victory, the almost 28,000 fans who took the train to MetLife Stadium were too much for the train system to handle. Several fans told it took them over 2 hours to get a on a train and a large crowd was seen gathering outside the station.

The New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee made announcements on the public address system in the stadium and also via Twitter asking fans to wait before coming to the stadium.

Smith said that as of midnight, the process of returning fans to the Secaucus Junction was still ongoing.

(Read full post)

Reports: Epic transit delays in New Jersey

February, 2, 2014
Feb 2
SecurityAP Photo/Matt RourkeFans wait to go through security at the Secaucus junction.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Mass Transit Super Bowl is in the process of dealing with a mass delay.

The weather isn’t the issue, but getting to the game doesn’t appear to be going as smoothly as the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee had hoped when it asked fans to arrive by bus or train if possible.

Reporter Matt Ehalt already encountered lines at the Secaucus junction at 1:30 in the afternoon, which was already a half-hour before fans would be let into the MetLife Stadium security perimeter. “Packed house right now,” Ehalt said, although the trip to the stadium was short once he got onto the train.

In the hours since, more and more fans have been tweeting photos of growing lines and complaining of heat in the crowded conditions. Other outlets have reported that the wait for a train has been extended to an hour and a half.

There isn’t an alternative. Fans aren’t able to walk to the game, parking passes are sold out and the Fan Express bus has been sold out.

Last week, host committee CEO Al Kelly said they were prepared for some glitches.

“We believe we’re ready and we’ve got good, solid plans in place all over the place,” Kelly said. “We certainly expect along the way a little challenge, here or there, will pop us and I think we have enough contingency plans.”

He said they had added to the scheduled services to accommodate the volume.

Fan Express buses seem to be arriving more regularly, although rider Kevin Jackson said there was some confusion to start the day when the Columbus Circle pickup spot was moved by a block.

In New York City, traffic along some routes, for example Ninth Avenue, was shut down in order to accommodate early media buses.

The train situation bears watching, and it’s worth noting that all these fans have to get home via train, as well.

Matt Ehalt goes to the Super Bowl

February, 2, 2014
Feb 2
Reporter @Matt Ehalt is live-tweeting his trip to MetLife Stadium for the Super Bowl. No media shuttle for this guy -- he's going as a fan.

MetLife Stadium skylineAP Photo/Charlie RiedelNew York Giants co-owner John Mara would like to see the Super Bowl return to MetLife Stadium.
You know how you make deals with your kids and you know they're going to take advantage but you do it anyway because they're your kids and you just love 'em so doggone much? Like, it's bedtime and you're having fun playing video games with them and they say, "Daddy, pleeeeeease, just one more game and we'll go right to bed?" And then you say yes, and you play the one more game and they ask for another one?

This is John Mara. He's the kid in this story. Roger Goodell and the NFL's other owners are the duped parents who think their kid can do no wrong. And Mara's going to keep getting his way as long as they're all too scared or myopic to put their foot down.

Mara said on the "Ian O'Connor Show" on Sunday morning on ESPN Radio that of course he thinks the Super Bowl should return to MetLife Stadium in future years, because, wow, yeah, the week's been great and look how great the weather is on this one random early-February weekend in 2014.
Asked if he wanted a Super Bowl sequel at MetLife, Mara said, "Based on everything that's happened so far, yes. If we can be assured that we'd get the same cooperation from all the different government entities that were involved, which has been tremendous so far, I don't see any reason why we shouldn't consider doing it again.

"I think that when the NFL owners that are here, when they leave MetLife Stadium tonight after this game, I'm pretty confident that most of them will say to themselves that it was a great idea to have this event in this area, New York and New Jersey, and why not come back here again. It's good for the league."

What a pile of garbage. It's good for John Mara, and for the New York/New Jersey area that hosted all of the events leading up to Sunday night's game. But it's whatever for the NFL, which could stage the Super Bowl on the moon and find a way to make a zillion dollars off of it.

What no one's calling these guys on is that they promised this was a one-time deal. Go back and read what they were saying in 2010, when they decided the game would be here. Asked specifically about this, Goodell and Mara's fellow owners insisted this would be a one-time exception to the NFL's longstanding rule requiring the game to be held in places that had either a dome or an average high temperature of at least 50 degrees. Goodell categorically shot down the idea of other cold-weather, open-air-stadium cities hosting the game because New York is special. No one came right out and admitted that the Super Bowl was a reward condition for Mara's Giants and Woody Johnson's Jets building a new stadium with more luxury boxes and better premium seating options than Giants Stadium had, but everything everyone said made it clear that that's what this was, and that once it was over it wouldn't happen again.


News item: John Mara says he wants another New York/New Jersey Super Bowl.


Discuss (Total votes: 7,000)

But we all know these guys don't always tell the truth, and so there was never any reason to believe this exact thing wouldn't happen. And now that the area got through the early part of the week with frigid-but-not-incapacitating weather, and now that it appears game conditions will be the absolute best anyone could have hoped for when this whole cockamamie idea was conceived, they want to go back on this.

They shouldn't press their luck. For goodness' sake, another winter storm is scheduled to hit this area mere hours after the game ends Sunday night. They got lucky by one day. And that's just game day we're talking about. Every time they have the Super Bowl here or in Chicago or in Philadelphia (and you know that's going to come up as long as Mara keeps pushing), the NFL is going to be taking a major risk that its biggest week (not just its biggest day, but its major convention week) gets ruined due to weather. And I continue to fail to understand the reasons for inviting that risk.

No, you can't predict the weather. It snowed in Atlanta and New Orleans early last week, which means the Super Bowl would have been a mess this year if it had been in either of those warm-weather, dome-stadium towns. Three years ago Dallas was crippled by an ice storm. I get that you can't predict weather years in advance. But you can minimize risk, and you can decide to hold your gargantuan event in places where it's more likely to go well. The NFL should do this, and the fact the weather in New Jersey on Feb. 2, 2014, is good does not qualify as a good reason to invite the game back here -- or to Philadelphia or Chicago or Foxborough -- in 2018. It's madness. It always was madness. And just because they got away with it one time doesn't mean it makes sense to push their luck and try it again.

But they will. Because they're just like spoiled kids. If you always give them everything they want, then they never stop asking for more.