The coldest yard

Bad weather means staying on top of your equipment, which basically means the shoe and cleat. But when it snows, cleats can be rendered moot. After only a few steps, the snow can fill in the space between the cleats, turning the bottom of the shoe into a well-packed snow cone. This slows down the action on the field, but the ball is easier to handle than one soaked by rain. Snow games can be surprisingly high-scoring affairs.

There is a great leveling that happens when extreme weather hits. Game-week preparations are highly managed affairs, with coaches removing all the variables to control every last detail of the product. The game plan is followed with maddening precision, often to the point of stifling the football player’s raw athletic instinct. But on a gusty game day, the scripted plan blows away in the gale force, and what’s left are the best football players on planet Earth, playing the game they know how to play.

This is why we should cross our fingers for snow and cold in East Rutherford on Feb. 2. The elements grant the players a reprieve from no-variable football. There is only this ball, on this field, and us, together, screaming silently toward an invisible line, underneath a frozen banner of hope.