[Business Day One] In The Bleak Midwinter
I read Bill Simmons, more to be entertained than informed. But he made me think the other day, when he wrote about Brett Favre:
Who’s more likely to be affected by bone-chilling temperatures — a young QB with little wear and tear on his body, or an old QB who has started 270 consecutive games, battled an addiction to painkillers and probably takes 15 minutes to get out of bed every morning? Wouldn’t it be the old guy? Think of it this way: A family gets together for the holidays in Buffalo. There are three brothers in the family (ages 27, 35 and 38), two sisters, a mom, a dad and a grandfather. One morning, Buffalo gets crushed by a blizzard and somebody has to shovel the driveway in minus-4-degree weather for two hours. Which family member gets bundled up and goes out there? The youngest brother. Why? BECAUSE HE’S 27!!!!!!!!! He’s the youngest, healthiest one! Is there any chance the 38-year-old guy goes out there? No! Why? BECAUSE HE’S 38!!!!
Makes too much sense, right? I watched the game with that in mind, and was in no way surprised when the old man threw for two interceptions and couldn’t find his checkdown receivers under pressure. He’s pushing 40 and running around on a frozen field in the Pacific Northwest. What did you think would happen?
This got me thinking about football, and how it is the most variable sport in terms of weather. At least in terms of the American sports. Basketball and hockey are played indoors in climate controlled environs. Yes, some arenas are warmer than others and that affects ice conditions and the grip on the basketball and all. But still, you know the court is getting a wipedown every ten seconds and the ice is resurfaced between periods. In baseball, if the weather is bad the game is called. Yes, sometimes there’s rain, and it changes the complexion of the game. But fans complain when it’s more than a drizzle, and bemoan the slip-and-slide version of America’s Passtime as “not real baseball.
Yet in football, games are played when temperatures range from 5 degrees up to 90. In driving rain. In ice, sweltering heat, wind storms. It took an Act of God to get football to stop in New Orleans for a season, for goodness sake. And only because the stadium was destroyed. The Patriots/Cardinals tilt in Foxboro yesterday was technically as much of a football game as all the ones played in the Arizona desert. Yet the Cardinals couldn’t actually play. What they did against the Pats wasn’t football. But I don’t hear any complaints. It’s just part of the game, really. The sheer variability of conditions. And in that regard, football is the most unique of all sports. Just imagine baseball being played in an irregularly shaped rock quarry for two weeks out of the year. Or basketball hoops increased by six inches in diameter every third game. That is how much the weather affects football, yet each game still falls within the realm of football.
Just something to think about while you’re watching these giant men freeze on the sidelines.