JERSEY CITY, N.J. – An icy wind made its way through the Meadowlands, cut across the Hudson River and into frigid Manhattan. Looks like Mother Nature is taking seriously the NFL’s slogan for the upcoming Super Bowl: Best Served Cold.
One week before kickoff, on the day the Broncos and Seahawks arrived in the frozen Big Apple, Sunday brought a bit of a thaw. Temperatures actually reached the low 20s.
Not that the guys who will take the field at MetLife Stadium have any complaints or concerns. They’d play this one on the New Jersey tundra or in Death Valley.
“My team is excited,” Peyton Manning said after the Broncos’ flight landed in New Jersey. “We worked hard to earn this opportunity. We couldn’t be more excited.
“We were excited getting on that plane and excited getting off that plane.”
What the Broncos and Seahawks must understand is that the upcoming week is unlike anything else they experienced during the season. Or during any season.
More media, for sure. A glaring spotlight on everything. Spending a week away from home. Practicing in another team’s facility: the Seahawks at the Giants’ complex across the parking lots from MetLife Stadium, the Broncos at the Jets’ place in Florham Park, about 30 minutes from the Meadowlands.
Both coaches, Denver’s John Fox and Seattle’s Pete Carroll, expressed concern about the outdoor practice fields being covered with snow or frozen. Neither sounded eager about working indoors the entire week.
Just another inconvenience that goes along with the Super Bowl, although the NFL said the outdoor fields will be available for practices.
“Our mentality is strong,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I think we know how to play in games like this. Hopefully we will be able to maintain that mentality that allows us to do the things we do.”
Not one regular Seahawks player has been this far, giving Denver something of an edge in experience. The Broncos have four: receiver Wes Welker, tight end Jacob Tamme, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and some quarterback named Peyton.
Manning, of course, is the only current Bronco to have won a ring, with Indianapolis in 2007. He also lost the Super Bowl in 2010 with the Colts.
“The Super Bowl is a big deal,” he said. “I know how hard it is to get here. I know the sacrifice the team made.”
That they will sacrifice the comfort of playing in a dome, or in a warm climate, in this Super Bowl doesn’t seem to be fazing them a bit. Instead, the Broncos want to embrace the cold, the winds, the snow — and everything else that comes along this week in the first Super Bowl ever played outdoors in a cold-weather city.
“We’d love to play in 70-degree weather,” said Denver 15-year veteran cornerback Champ Bailey, who has reached his first title game. “But if you tell me it’s 20 degrees and I am playing in the Super Bowl, I’m going to take it.”
Welker, who lost both of his trips to the Super Bowl with the Patriots before joining the Broncos this season as a free agent, fully understands the issues that can arise this week. He and Manning, in particular, have counseled teammates on those pitfalls.
“It’s knowing what to expect, trying to get rid of all the nonsense that goes with the Super Bowl,” Welker said.
The Seahawks certainly didn’t find their send-off in Seattle to be nonsensical, even if it got a little “extraordinary,” as Carroll dubbed it.
“At the airport, what usually takes us about one minute to get through took 20 minutes,” defensive end Cliff Avril said about the “thousands and thousands” of fans lining the bus route. “They were pretty close and we were hitting the windows inside. It was a blast.”
That’s a lot of 12th Men saluting their team.
“The 12s were out there in full force,” Carroll said. “The bus could go 2 miles per hour because they kind of scurried into the streets. They were not just waving, but jumping up and down and going crazy. It was kind of collegiate-like.”
On Monday, with the long travel out of the way and the introductory news conferences behind them, each team gets down to the main strokes. They can’t wait.
“I don’t believe in such a thing called distractions,” Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “This is the moment we have got to be in. It’s what you wanted your whole life.”