The Chicago Bears are a franchise that has become synonymous with bad weather. The term “Bears weather” gets bandied about any time the team takes the field in the freezing cold or, better yet, in the snow, and it instantly calls to mind memories and images of George Halas and company braving the elements with their hard-nosed style of football.
Former Bears head coach Mike Ditka would seem like the ideal fit for those kinds of conditions, given that he is the embodiment of toughness to many Bears fans. Ironically though, he had some unkind things to say about the NFL’s decision to host this week’s Super Bowl in New Jersey, where temperatures are forecasted to be in the low 30’s at kick-off.
“The weather’s going to be a problem,” Ditka said in an interview with the Detroit Free Press. “They made a big mistake. The game shouldn’t be there. I mean, it’s stupid.”
The two quarterbacks in the game don’t seem to share Ditka’s opinion. “Hopefully it snows,” Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told the media on Monday. “That would be kind of fun to play Super Bowl XLVIII in the snow.”
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning wasn’t quite as enthusiastic but still expressed confidence in his ability. “Well, I do (feel confident),” Manning said. “Anytime coming off an injury like I had, the more situations you can face – weather, two-minute drills, third-and-ones, fourth-and-ones – I needed to face different circumstances with my new surroundings and with my new physical state.”
Despite the confidence (or in Manning’s case, the insistence that he can adapt to conditions) of the quarterbacks in the game, Ditka elaborated on his opposition to the Big Game being held in a cold weather climate.
“I’m just saying, if you get extreme cold or you get snow during the game, then it’s unfair to the fans, to the players, to everybody,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to perform at near the level you’re used to. And the element of luck comes into it, and it shouldn’t happen in this game. That game should be based on the people on the field who make the plays.”
Ditka does make a decent point about wanting to see the players perform at their best. Seeing Seattle, the league’s best defense, try to come up with a way to stop Denver, the league’s best offense, is going to be a treat on Sunday, but if it actually snows or the wind kicks up, then the matchup could be adversely affected. The Super Bowl is not always the best indicator of who the best team in the league is (the Giants and Ravens both won the game after only winning nine games during the regular season), but the idea of having the game on a conditions-neutral field to give both teams a chance to perform at a high level is a legitimate gripe.
At the same time though, some fans are attracted to this game BECAUSE of the fact that chaos could ensue. After all, many fans love to see football played in the snow and the cold, because it shows which teams is most capable of dealing with the elements, and that in itself could be the mark of a great champion.
Can Manning navigate the wind and cold in the Big Apple to find his myriad of receivers? Can Marshawn Lynch bulldoze a path through a Denver defense that will feel every hit and tackle more acutely? Those questions may not appeal to Ditka, but they are still fascinating ones that we will see answered on Sunday.
What do you think, Bears fans? Should Ditka embrace the spirit of Bear Weather, or does Da Coach have a point?