- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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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.