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|Eli Manning thinks a Super Bowl in New York could be unforgettable.|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning's finest moment came when he and the New York Giants stunned the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Arizona in Super Bowl XLII.
The Giants quarterback's friends and family sat that night inside the cozy indoor confines of the University of Phoenix stadium for one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time. Yet, the thrilling 17-14 Giants upset isn't the game they like to reminisce about.
Manning's buddies like to talk about the 2007 NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. Manning outdueled Brett Favre on a frozen Lambeau Field with temperatures dipping below minus-20 with wind chill. Manning says that frigid game is unforgettable because of how brutally cold it was in Green Bay.
"Those experiences make a game more special and make it more memorable for players and for fans," Manning said. "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."
On Tuesday, the buzz at the NFL league meeting in Dallas will be about whether the 2014 Super Bowl should be played in the elements at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Should the NFL hold its grandest game for the first time outdoors in a cold-weather city? Some of the Giants and New York Jets say yes. Manning says the Super Bowl should be played outdoors in the cold. After all, this is football, not golf.
"The game was founded in weather conditions, it wasn't founded in Florida playing in 80-degree weather," said Jets offensive lineman Damien Woody, who loved playing in the infamous snowy AFC Divisional playoff game between the Patriots and Raiders. That game, also known as the "Tuck Rule" game, is another example of how bad weather can lead to an exciting game. "You play in the elements throughout the season anyway," Woody said. "The Super Bowl ... that is the one game you really wouldn't care where it is played. You aren't worried about the weather. You are worried about winning the Lombardi."
Manning said the typical Super Bowl atmosphere where players are in short sleeves, and the game is played in a dome or in sunny weather, can be boring. "Now all of the sudden you get a picture where you got the hot air coming out of the mouth, or the steam coming off the heads of the players," he said. "It just kind of gets back to football and old school. If you look back at some of the original great games in our history they are played outside. It is an opportunity to play a game that looks a little different."
For the Jets, a Super Bowl played in cold and gusty winds in the New Meadowlands Stadium is a nice equalizer. While Santonio Holmes may not agree, his coach thinks the weather here can only help his stifling defense.
"I would be really disappointed to get Peyton [Manning] in that situation," Rex Ryan said, sarcastically of course.
Bart Scott wasn't joking when he explained why a cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl would make life tough on a high-octane passing attack. The Jets linebacker says it would be interesting to see how the last Super Bowl between the Colts and Saints -- two teams built on passing -- would've played had the game been played outdoors in the cold.
|Some of the game's greatest games were played in inclement weather. Manning asks: Why would the Super Bowl be different?|
"If it would have been in New York, windy stadium, hard ground, it would have been tough," said Scott, whose Jets lost to the Colts 30-17 indoors at Lucas Oil Stadium in the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis. "Receivers would not have been able to come out of their cuts, it would have been a totally different thing. It would have been the team with the best running game. The team with the best running game won the game anyway. But it would have been a little bit easier."
Certainly playing against an explosive passing team like the Colts, Saints or Cardinals would be easier outdoors in inclement weather.
"I think sometimes other teams have unfair advantages because they don't have to play in the elements," Scott said. "Outdoor teams have to play inside but the indoor teams never has to play outside [in the cold]. Perfect conditions to run the offense, don't have to worry about the elements, that is not football all the time."
Former Jets running back Curtis Martin doesn't buy the notion that a team with a prolific quarterback, or passing attack, will struggle in a Super Bowl played in less than ideal weather.
"These fields are so advanced compared to what ancient NFL is used to," Martin said. "It is not going to make a big difference. I think a passing game in bad conditions is more feasible for teams now. It comes down to execution. Both teams have to deal with the same circumstances."
But the Jets and Giants are teams that are built to play in those types of conditions year-round. Both teams are designed around a bruising ground attack accompanied by a suffocating defense.
"Bill Parcells had a great philosophy," former Giants running back Ottis Anderson said. "September, and October, there are going to be months where you have good weather and have to throw a lot more. But teams that are going to go to the next level have to be able to run the ball come November, December and January. If you can't do that successfully, you are not going to go far."
Anderson said the Parcells Giants knew what would happen in December and January if they faced a passing-oriented team that couldn't run the ball in cold weather and windy conditions at the Meadowlands.
"[If you can't run] you can't win here," Anderson said recently, while standing on the field at the New Meadowlands Stadium following a news conference to reveal the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl bid. "If you can't run the ball, you can't win here in the Meadowlands. That's for sure."
There was a time, recently, when the idea of a Super Bowl being played outdoors in a cold-weather city was about as likely as a Giants-Jets Super Bowl. But a Super Bowl at the New Meadowlands is considered by many to be a winning scenario, a chance to play the league's showcase game in the grandest city in the world. The New York-New Jersey bid is believed to be the leading candidate, over bids by Miami and Tampa, to win the 2014 game. It already has commissioner Roger Goodell's endorsement. It definitely has the backing of several Giants and Jets.
"It can be on the moon, or anywhere," Scott said. "I don't care. I just want to be in a Super Bowl."
Manning has already played in one and he thinks a Super Bowl played here in the cold would be unforgettable. He just can't get over the feeling of the NFC title game against Green Bay that his friends still talk about.
"It was one of my all-time favorite games not just because it was the NFC Championship Game but being in Green Bay, playing in a game that is negative 20 degrees," Manning said. "All those factors kind of make a game special."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.