Like all right-thinking people, we were pleased to see the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl despite our natural love of the underdog. We backed them for three reasons: Troy Polamalu’s hair, the team’s asymmetrical helmet design, and the fact that they play football where it belongs — outdoors in often scenic nasty weather. (That lovely snow during this year’s playoffs!) This is indeed how the game should be played.
Especially if you want to win a Super Bowl. The Steelers’ victory last Sunday proves yet again that if you want to capture a championship, don’t build your football team a damn dome (or retractable-roof stadium, or air bubble, or whatever). Because of the now 43 Super Bowl winners, only two have ever had an indoor home field: the St. Louis Rams in 2000 and the Indianapolis Colts in 2007. While there indeed have been more outdoor NFL facilities than covered ones, indoor teams do disproportionately poorly when it comes to the final prize.
We subscribe to the notion that indoor teams fare less well because they get too acclimatized to their controlled environments, and are thus handicapped when they play outside, where weather introduces so many variables. We also believe that the relative similarity of the league’s indoor environments reduces the home-field advantage — too many visiting teams come in reasonably familiar with the host team’s indoor set-up, rather than having to deal with, say, idiosyncratic winds or turf.
Of course playing al fresco won’t by itself get you to the Super Bowl; avoiding Matt Millen is important, too. But the relative paucity of indoor teams hoisting the Lombardi Trophy is telling.
Anyway, just a thought here as we face the looming reality of the end of the football season, with only that depressing ritual known as the Pro Bowl coming up this Sunday. We’re happy to hear your dome/no-dome views, as we sit here hoping some far-sighted clubs will crank out a big can-opener this spring and cut the lid off their stadiums.