<
>

16 Days: Goodell on weather criticism

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to know why the NHL Winter Classic is praised where an outdoor NFL game gets criticized. AP Photo, USA TODAY Sports

Each day from now until Feb. 2, ESPNNewYork.com will take you inside the challenge of staging the most unpredictable NFL title game ever. There are 16 days until the Super Bowl.

NEW YORK -- Roger Goodell has noticed the different commentary for the first-ever outdoors Super Bowl in a cold-weather climate on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium, and the NHL's Winter Classic and Stadium Series that includes two games at Yankee Stadium.

"It's ironic that an indoor sport playing outdoors and they're all talking about how wonderful that it is. We're an outdoors sport playing outdoors and people are saying 'well, I don't know about that,'" Goodell said Thursday inside the Madison Square Garden theater. "This is what we're all about. I actually think the teams are excited about it. We're proud of what we're about to accomplish."

The NFL commissioner kicked off a Super Bowl Teammate Rally at MSG on Thursday as he briefly spoke to a crowd of about 1,200 people who will work the big game. Goodell and NFL senior VP of events Frank Supovitz regaled the crowed before the training session started.

Approximately 20,000 people will work Super Bowl week, according to Supovitz.

"I have never seen the kind of energy and excitement around a Super Bowl that I've seen with this one," Goodell said. "I think the people in this room, you're going to be part of history."

Those who attended the rally were made to feel like they were going to play in the Super Bowl as the Jets and Giants drum lines played music in the hall leading to the theater, and the Jets cheerleaders also lined the hallway.

"This is an awesome experience," said 22-year-old Bronx native Robert Pastrana. "The walk in, I've never been greeted like that."

Inside the theater, the program started with a "I'm a fan" video showing different celebrities proclaiming their love for the NFL, before Goodell briefly answered a few prepared questions. Goodell said the outdoor game will be a "great thing" for the NFL and the fans. He also thanked all the workers.

"We are proud to have you representing us and this region and you make a difference," Goodell said. "We want everyone walking away from the Super Bowl -- whether you're at one of our events, you're at the stadium, if you're watching on television -- to say 'wow. This was spectacular and I was glad to be part of it however I participated in it.' You all will make the difference in that. I promise you that."

Supovitz discussed what lies ahead for the workers, telling them how this Super Bowl has needed more planning than its 47 predecessors. He said the league is expecting 1.5 million people at Super Bowl Boulevard in Manhattan from 34th Street to 47th Street, which would be a record for an NFL festival.

He also let the workers in on Super Bowl secrets such as the overhead shots before the game not being filmed on game day, as MetLife Stadium will be a level one national security event and have a temporary flight restriction.

The large crowd seemed to enjoy the rally, and can't wait for the Super Bowl.

"It's a fever pitch. [The excitement] is high. Week by week it's getting higher" said 24-year-old Eric Motley from Harlem who will work at the stadium. "I can't wait. I'm getting jumpy right now thinking about it. Feel like I'm going to start playing in the game myself."