Although most of our immediate area was spared the heavy snowfall of the post-Christmas storm that charged into the Northeast last weekend, New York City and other points along the coast certainly took a pounding. One weather expert likened it to a category 2 or 3 hurricane, since the system brought together the necessary ingredients of heavy snow and high winds.
Emergency services in New York City were certainly put to the test. There were many stories of travelers being stranded in public transportation and emergency responders being snarled in traffic in the blizzard-like conditions.
City leaders such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter were voices of reason throughout the weather emergency, warning the public about travel and keeping public safety a priority.
And then there are characters like Governor Ed Rendell, whose feelings and machismo was somehow hurt by the fact that the NFL had the nerve to cancel a football game in his city. In light of the snow emergency in Philadelphia, the NFL postponed the Vikings-Eagles game until tonight. League officials said this would allow sufficient time to ensure that roads, parking lots and the stadium are fully cleared.
Eagles' coach Andy Reid agreed with the league's decision, stating "We're OK with it" and "organized and prepared for this."
Rendell, meanwhile, climbed on his soap box on Mike Missanelli's radio talk show, pontificating how there are never cancellations in football due to bad weather and then making the absurd determination that somehow the NFL's move on the side of public safety somehow made us "a nation of wusses."
Missanelli mixed it up with the former governor, asking him how he could argue against public safety during an extreme weather event. Rendell shot back that all the major travel arteries were open and that snowfall was not as heavy as predicted in the city.
"Let fans make the judgment," Rendell said. "Fans can make that decision."
Rendell backed his argument by pointing to some earlier cold-weather games in NFL history, such as the AFC Championship Game at Cincinnati between the Bengals and San Diego Chargers in 1982 when the wind chill hovered around 40 below zero, and the famous Ice Bowl between the Packers and the Cowboys in the NFL Championship game.
These games cited by Rendell were certainly played in bone-chilling cold but what set them apart from the scene two days ago was the fact that there was visibility. They were both played in the afternoon and the weather was clear. Sunday's game was to be played at night and under hurricane-like wind gusts.
As the governor said, the major roads in the city remained open but when the NFL made its decision to postpone, the city was braced for a worst-case scenario. The NFL executives used sound judgment in their decision to postpone the game. Thousands or cars would have been converging on south Philadelphia at night during the middle of a storm that had produced white-out conditions in many coastal areas. Having emergency vehicles trying to maneuver through traffic snarls caused by the extreme weather conditions certainly could have been life-threatening.
So I guess the next time there's a football game played in sub-freezing temperatures and with 50 mph wind gusts blowing the snow in fans' faces, I guess we can expect to see Ed Rendell among the juiced-up fans watching, out from the protection of his glass-encased perch in a super box or heated press box?
Don't hold your breath.
By Jim Zbick