- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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Start spreading the news, New York: The Super Bowl finally is on its way to our fair city. For the next two weeks, the Meadowlands -- home of MetLife Stadium -- will replace the Florida Everglades as the most famous swamp in the country.
We waited a long time for Super Bowl XLVIII -- more than three years -- but it was worth it, because we landed a matchup worthy of the greatest city in the world and New Jersey, too:
The game, to be played Feb. 2, will feature big names and big personalities, set against the backdrop of the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl in history. The weather forecast is calling for c-c-c-old and possible snow, yet there could be a blast of hot air. Global warming? No, we’re talking about Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ big-mouth cornerback.
For the first time since Super Bowl XXV -- New York Giants-Buffalo Bills in January 1991 -- the game will have the No. 1-rated offense (Broncos) against the No. 1-rated defense (Seahawks). We have the two No. 1 seeds and the biggest name in the sport -- Peyton Manning -- so what else do you want?
It wouldn’t be a Super Bowl without a Manning presence. Two years after Eli Manning won a Super Bowl in Peyton’s place, Lucas Oil Stadium, Peyton comes to Eli’s house in search of his second ring. This will be the fifth Manning Super Bowl in the past eight years. Instead of Papa John’s, Peyton should endorse Papa Archie.
The Mannings will have a foothold on the western side of the Hudson River during Super Bowl week. Eli lives in Hoboken, N.J., only two miles north of Jersey City, where the team hotels are located. Peyton will have a personal tour guide in his little brother, but we’d be more than happy to offer some local knowledge.
If he can squeeze a little time in his minute-by-minute schedule, Peyton should head into Manhattan for a nice dinner, maybe take a spin past Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square. It’s an interactive fan fest that will include a 180-foot Toboggan ride on Broadway. How cool is that? We’d suggest taking the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan, although you may want to check the traffic report. If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is in a foul mood, you never know how it might impact a river crossing.
From Wednesday to Saturday, Peyton & Co. will practice at the New York Jets’ facility in Florham Park, N.J. While there, he should take a moment to reflect on what might have been. If he hadn’t decided to return to school for his senior year, he would’ve been drafted No. 1 overall by the Jets in 1997. Instead of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, it would’ve been the Peyton Manning Performance Center.
No doubt, Manning will receive a warm reception from the Jets, who feared the nightmare scenario -- hosting Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots for a few days. They’d take Manning over Tom Brady any day.
Seeing how Manning is obsessed with “Omaha,” he should know there’s an Omaha Steaks store located in nearby Livingston. They’d probably cut him a deal. Who can forget his famous “Cut that meat” commercial?
If he’s looking for lighter fare, he can stop by the Boston Market in East Hanover. The restaurant apparently is hard to find, but a word of advice: Don’t ask Kellen Winslow for directions.
Aside from Manning, who can stake his claim as the greatest quarterback in history with a victory, Super Bowl XVLIII offers plenty of other storylines. There will be the “Legion of Boom” versus the Manning men. You’ll have a Pot Roast (Terrance Knighton) trying to swallow the Beast (Marshawn Lynch). Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
And let’s not forget about the coaches. Surely, you remember them, New York. The Seahawks’ Pete Carroll spent five seasons with the Jets, the final year (1994) as the head coach. Maybe, for old time’s sake, CBS should send over Dan Marino to re-enact the fake spike play. If it weren’t for that infamous moment, Carroll would’ve lasted more than a year.
Broncos coach John Fox left town under better circumstances. He was the Giants’ defensive coordinator from 1997 to 2001, winning an NFC title in 2000 before moving on to become the Carolina Panthers’ coach. Fox and Carroll are two of the nice guys in the NFL, so there won’t be any harsh words between them.
Sherman will do enough trash-talking for both teams, count on that. No doubt, he will be a star attraction at Media Day, slated for next Tuesday at the Prudential Center in Newark. The back-page editors at the New York tabloids already are drooling.
Naturally, the weather will be a huge story, especially if Mother Nature decides she wants to dump snow on Roger Goodell’s big party. Manning will be grilled about the cold weather because he’s always grilled about the cold weather.
Here’s a suggestion: Call Brady. He probably could lend you some UGGS to get through the week.
Gotham is ready for Super Bowl XVLIII. We’ve been primping the stadium for weeks (didn’t have to worry about the locals in the postseason), and we’ve been gussying up the town. There will be concerts in every borough, a fireworks show on the Hudson, a virtual Super Bowl theater outside Macy’s every night and a bunch of other neat stuff.
Everything is in place for a killer Super Bowl -- the teams, the entertainment, etc. -- and now it’s up to you, New York.
And Mother Nature, too.