CHICAGO – This message is for you, Roger Goodell.
Bring it on.
Bring on the Super Bowl to Soldier Field and its icy lakefront. Bring on the frigid cold and the piles of snow and the howling winds and the biggest game of all.
That’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of meteorologists whose jobs revolve around this city’s often crazy, relentless, unforgiving weather.
“Bring it on, yes, 100 percent,” said Cheryl Scott, a meteorologist at NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV. “And then make sure I’m the meteorologist on the sideline reporting on the weather conditions that day.”
Did you catch that, Roger?
On Friday, the NFL’s all-powerful commissioner gave his annual state of the leagueaddress to reporters near the site of Super Bowl XLVIII in New York. And while Goodell did not commit to having additional outdoor Super Bowls in northern cities, he also indicated he was open to the possibility.
The next three Super Bowls have been promised to Arizona, San Francisco and Houston, but anything is possible starting in 2018.
That’s good news to Bill Bellis, the chief meteorologist at Fox affiliate WFLD-TV. Bellis gave two frozen thumbs up to the prospect of a Super Bowl in the Windy City, where he moved to from Phoenix because, um, … why?
“I didn’t mind playing golf year round,” Bellis said with a chuckle, “but I like climates like this. I know people probably don’t want to hear this, but I love this winter because it’s been a lot of fun forecasting.”
And Bellis would be happy to forecast the world’s biggest sporting event.
Before Bellis studied weather patterns, he ran crossing patterns as a wide receiver for two years at Lycoming College, a Division III school in Williamsport, Penn. He recalled a game against Susquehanna with scattered snow and a minus-2 wind chill.
“I was a guy that never believed in wearing gloves as a receiver,” said Bellis, who transferred to Arizona after his sophomore year to earn his degree in meteorology. “But that was one of those cases when I wore gloves.”
Add a snowmobile suit and a parka and one of those Russian fur hats, and I’m in.
As it turns out, Mother Nature looks as if she’ll cut Super Bowl ticketholders some slack this weekend with temperatures forecast to be in the 40s in New Jersey. But here’s hoping an unexpected dip that could create cold-weather history.
For now, the record for the coldest temperature on the field for a Super Bowl kickoff is 39 degrees Fahrenheit. That record has stood for 42 years, since Super Bowl VI in New Orleans, where Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins.
Next on the list of chilly kickoffs are Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis (44 degrees), Super Bowl IX in New Orleans (46 degrees) and Super Bowl VIII in Houston (50 degrees). The record high is 84 degrees, set at Super Bowl VII in Los Angeles.
I’m no expert meteorologist – true story: my lowest grade in college came in an introductory course titled “Severe and Unusual Weather” – but I think it’s safe to say Chicago would shatter any Super Bowl record for cold weather. It’s also safe to say Sunday’s game should provide us with a brief distraction from a brutal winter.
As for forecasting a Super Bowl winner, no weather map can help with that.
“I just want a good game,” Scott said with a laugh. “Put on a good game.
“I will be focusing on how many inches of snow we’ll be getting in Chicago.”
Here’s a hint: Too many.
• Shaw Media sports columnist Tom Musick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @tcmusick.