ICE STATION ZEBRA — On Sunday, in the warmth of the NBC Studios, I found it absurd the NFL called the Eagles-Vikings game because of snow and wind in Philadelphia. You play football in snow and wind. I’ve seen fabled, unforgettable games (The Tuck Rule Game, Michael Vick beating Brett Favre at Lambeau) in snow and wind. Part of NFL lore. And I agreed with Cris Collinsworth, who said last night on NBC that postponing the Minnesota-Philadelphia game until Tuesday night is a dangerous precedent, because, as he said, it opens the door to more weather-related postponements for whatever reason. This can’t have been the first time a municipality declared a weather emergency on the day of an NFL game.
Then, at about the time it would have been in the middle of the second quarter of the Eagles game, I stepped outside. It was a four-block walk to my hotel in a city, New York, 90 miles northeast of Philadelphia, in the throes of the same storm Vickville was getting.
And on an eight-minute trudge to my hotel, I began to change my mind.
Maybe it was the way the snow was wind-turbining sideways, either at my back or in my face. Snow feels like tiny glass shards when it’s blown at 40 mph into your face. Maybe it was the taxi letting a passenger out in the middle of a barren Fifth Avenue because he feared going down an untouched 52nd Street, or maybe it was the city bus stuck on the side of Fifth Avenue a block away, its wheels spinning helplessly. Maybe it was the lightning (don’t ask me how that happens) that lit up the sky menacingly like it was a stormy July night. It looked like the end of the world out there. Funny, but I don’t mind players playing in that. Hazard pay. But I mind fans getting there and going home in it. A friend of mine called from a cell phone on Route 3 in New Jersey, stuck in a logjam of stopped cars, around 10 last night. “We’re not moving,” he said. “I just hope I don’t run out of gas.”
So as much as it pains me to say it, no, I don’t mind that the game was called. For the 20 million of you longing for a game to watch last night, I’m sorry. For the 65,000 who might have tried to get to the game (I think maybe 20,000 would have made it), it wouldn’t have been worth it. Yes, I have the same concern Collinsworth has, and I still think the New Jersey Super Bowl is a harebrained idea, but precedent or not, it made no sense to play the game in conditions like last night’s.