PHILADELPHIA -- First off, let me say I really don't have a problem with spending three-plus days in Philadelphia. I like the city and being here in a hotel is a much better alternative to being stranded in the airport and trying to get out of town.
So what I'm about to say, write, babble on about, isn't a woe is me tale from an angry sportswriter. In some twisted way, this actually has been sort of fun. (The purchase of a Dave "The Hammer" Schultz throwback Flyers T-shirt today really made me feel better.)
But with all that said, the events that have unfolded in the past two days should not be repeated by the NFL. The league needs to realize it set a very unhealthy precedent when it postponed Sunday night's game between the Vikings and Eagles, and it needs to consider that it should have been far more upfront about why the game was shifted to Tuesday night instead of Monday. (Just say it was driven by the need to not have head-to-head games on Monday night for television purposes. People aren't stupid.)
The decision to postpone the game came early Sunday afternoon with projections that as much as 20 inches of snow would fall in Philadelphia and winds would reach up to 40 miles per hour. When the announcement was made there was no accumulation on the ground. By Monday morning the snow had ended and it was reported that just over 12 inches had fallen at the airport. In Minnesota this year, we call 12 inches a dusting.
As we drove into downtown Philadelphia on a sunny day there appeared to be about 4 or 5 inches of snow on the streets and while the wind was howling that was no surprise given that it's almost January. The NFL will claim that it acted in the best interest of its fans by postponing the game and expecting the worst, but the league is now faced with the question of how do you determine what is unsafe?
In reality, the conditions for the Vikings-Bears game at TCF Bank Stadium last Monday night were just as bad or worse when compared to what took place Sunday night in Philadelphia. Should that game have been postponed? Fans from Minnesota are just as important as fans from Philadelphia, right?
It's not even a debate that the playing surface at Lincoln Financial Field would have been safer for the players than the hard FieldTurf at TCF Bank Stadium. The Linc has a grass field and is continually maintained this time of year.
What the NFL needs to do is set a policy that if the opposing team gets to town the game needs to be played at its scheduled time unless it is dangerous for the players. If the NFL is concerned about fans showing up and tailgating because of a potential snowstorm it should inform fans that tailgating won't be an option that night.
If the league is concerned that winter weather has just become too much than start the season in July and be done with games by this time of year.
The New York area got hammered by this storm far worse than Philadelphia and you know what happened? The Islanders still played host to the Canadiens and Devils still played host to Toronto on Sunday. Only 3,136 showed up to watch the former game and 5,329 attended the latter but the games were scheduled to be played and they were.
(And don't argue that it would inconvenience fans to have played the Vikings-Eagles outdoors because they would have been cold. That's part of buying tickets from a team that plays its games outdoors in December and even January.)
The NHL doesn't often do things better than its football counterpart but in this case it made the right call and the NFL didn't. What the NFL learns from this teachable moment will be the key moving forward.