By Arnie Leshin
The first official Super Bowl in 1971 adopted what the four NFL versus AFL championships thought was a break, one in which the two finalists would have an extra week off before the super game.
Once, only once, has the game been played one week after the conference championships. In 1968, Joe Namath had two weeks to predict an upset for the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts. On the other hand, there have been teams and players that like the extra week.
Now comes a time when it would have been better to hold Super Bowl 53 this past Sunday, a week after the New England Patriots downed the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Rams disposed of the New Orleans Saints.
Why, well no snow, not even rain, temperatures in the high 50s, and a fine day to travel via the highways or by plain, train or bus. No go, without knowing of the weather report on the way in the Atlanta area and beyond, and with No. 53 to be played in downtown Atlanta at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
And now they know what awaits them. A winter storm watch goes into effect at 4 a.m. Eastern Time Tuesday, and Atlanta, a southern city known for grinding to a halt even in relatively light snowfalls, will have to face a heavier snowfall this time.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Monday reported that state offices in more than 30 counties in the northern part of the state, would be closed Tuesday, including those in the Atlanta area.
And Delta Air Lines cancelled about 170 flights from Atlanta’s busy Hartford-Jackson International Airport. This is in anticipation of snow and icy conditions. The National Weather Service projects that at least an inch of snow is possible in Atlanta, with up to two inches in far northern suburbs. Forecasters warn of the possibility of ice-glazed roads and highways.
The potential for black ice is also an overriding concern among emergency officials. Plus, temperatures are going to plummet. It’s very similar to 2014 where the roadways will not have enough time to dry off before the moisture or precipitation on them refreezes. That’s when you have black ice, and that’s what causes wrecks, which causes gridlock and public safety issues, injuries.
Road crews on Monday began treating major interstates, state routes and overpasses in north Georgia with brine — a liquid salt mixture – in anticipation of the storm.
The teams are safely here, the Rams arriving Saturday and the Patriots Sunday, but the routes they must use to travel to and from practice venues will also be pre-treated. New England is accustomed to this kind of nasty weather, but not in Los Angeles.
The stadium, the home of the Atlanta Falcons, has a roof, and it will open if weather permits. There is a 40 percent chance of showers on Super Bowl Sunday, and the weather will be near 58 degrees, which is slightly warmer than average for a Feb. 3 in Atlanta.
But forecasters say the more immediate threat is Tuesday and Wednesday when roads could be treacherous. They are also uncertain of how widespread the snowfall will be. Fortunately, in 2014, the game wasn’t played in Atlanta, it was held in the New Orleans Superdome between Seattle and Denver.
But all of this won’t keep the Super Bowl from being played, and the storm will arrive early in the week, and not on the weekend, and the stadium will have few empty seats, and scalpers will have high-priced tickets.