Chiefs fan at Arrowhead Stadium

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Bernstein: Frigid NFL Games Good, Bad

At the most important time of the season, players are compromised.

Dan Bernstein
January 15, 2019 - 2:36 pm
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(670 The Score) It looks like we're going Ice Bowl-ing again Sunday, with the Patriots and Chiefs playing for the AFC title in what could be record cold for Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

The National Weather Service predicts a blast of Arctic air that will lower gametime temperatures to anywhere from 10 degrees to "well below zero," conditions that will undoubtedly change plans and strategies for everyone involved in the affair, most specifically the teams' respective offenses that have gotten them to this point.

These are memorable, certainly, cases of football in the elements that have us playing turgid, militaristic NFL Flims music in our heads as the visible exhalations puff from behind facemasks. It makes for great television, the cutaways to shirtless drunken fat guys, adorably bundled toddlers and the perfunctory sideline thermometer. We're warm on the couch as the play-by-play man expresses concern for the safety and comfort of the sideline reporter who's demonstrating where the portable sideline heaters are positioned.

And some of the world's best athletes are compromised at the most important time of the season yet.

This is the point where you bring all your tired, meathead cliches: football was meant to be played outside, it's a sport of toughness, both teams play in the same environment, Bear Weather, etc. and feel compelled to list all the ones like it that you remember watching or even attending.

I can play that right along with you, having seen all of those games and having sat in the same stands with the sleeping bag and moon boots and chemical hand-warmers, but I don't have to want to romanticize it.

NFL football is a speed and precision game of timing and perfectly placed throws, no matter what antiquated notions of blood and guts and mud you care to hold dear. This is just a fact.​ Two teams of guys who mostly grew up in Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Louisiana will now deal with the inherently higher variance of bitterly low air temperature.

We don't play basketball in high winds or hold the Olympic gymnastics finals in a rainstorm. The Zamboni was invented for a reason.

Just because cold, wet football is something that we have done isn't in and of itself justification for preferring that it continue. Some of us would be pleased to see domed stadiums mandated as standard across the NFL, so the players can be allowed to decide outcomes without completely unnecessary variables.

I get the novelty, really. It's different, and we're wired to carve out places in our lore for big games that appear unique. But if you need that to increase the entertainment value at the highest level of a professional sport -- let alone for a conference championship game -- I'll have to disagree.

The best thing we could have is the highest quality of play possible with so much at stake.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​