December 27, 2010
Some Philadelphia Eagles fans, including the most important one in the state of Pennsylvania, are incensed that the team's game against the Minnesota Vikings was postponed for a blizzard that didn't pack as much of a wallop as expected on Sunday night.
Governor Ed Rendell joined countless fans upset about the game's move to Tuesday when he told FOX News:
"It's an absolute joke. I was looking forward to this. It would have been a real experience. This is what football is all about. We're becoming a nation of wussies."
Forecasters had called for a blizzard to hit during the game and for up to 18 inches of snow to fall in the City of Brotherly Love. But the center of the storm tracked east of the city and by the time the game would have been over, there was only about seven or eight inches on the ground. In those conditions, the game could have been played.
As a fan who would have watched Eagles-Vikings on television from the comforts of my own home, I couldn't agree more with Rendell. There's nothing better than football in the snow. My fondest memories from the biggest snowstorms to hit D.C. during my youth were playing football outside with friends and one of the greatest games I've ever watched on TV was the infamous 2003 divisional playoff game between the New England Patriots and Tom Brady(notes) (the "tuck rule" game), which was played in a driving snowstorm.
But this is real life, gov. If the NFL and the Eagles had a crystal ball and could have seen that the blizzard was going to fizzle in Philadelphia, they'd have played the game. But no such ball exists. They had to make the call eight hours ahead of game time based solely on the word of forecasters. It was the right move then and it's the right move now.
[Photos: East Coast blizzard strikes]
It's not like the 70,000 who come to root on the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field all live in the city and could have hopped on the subway to the game. Eagles country extends far east and west, to towns like Medford and Boyertown and Lancaster. Those people, who can drive hours in good conditions, needed to know whether to make the trek.
Sure, in retrospect, it's easy to say the game should have been played. But at the time the decision was made, it was the right call. Being reactionary doesn't work in a blizzard. You have to be proactive. If the blizzard conditions that hit New York had been present in Philadelphia during the game, it would have been dangerous for the thousands of fans who would have braved the weather. Just as importantly, it would have been a huge problem for the road crews and police who would have been tasked with saving stranded motorists in whiteout conditions on the highways. Officials always say during storms to stay at home and leave the roads clear for emergencies. A football game is no emergency.
[Snow photos: Before and after images of stadium roof collapse]
What makes this criticism so silly is that people are ripping the NFL for making a decision that was bad for its business. You think the NFL and NBC wanted to postpone this game and move it to the midweek rating doldrums of Tuesday? They had a nationally televised game featuring the year's breakout star airing against no competition from other networks and a captive audience sitting at home on the night after Christmas. Now they have a Tuesday night novelty. You can criticize the NFL for plenty of things, but not making the money move isn't one of them.
So don't go the easy route and bash the league like Rendell. We may be softening as a nation, but not because some people decided that others shouldn't drive in whiteout conditions. Just because a game could have been played doesn't mean that game should have been.
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