On a ridiculously cold Tuesday morning in late January, I started thinking about Groundhog Day.
It's not that I'm optimistic or anything, I've always regarded it as a rather silly tradition. Consider that we are relying on a rodent that resembles a genetically engineered and overfed squirrel to predict the weather. I just went to an online encyclopedia and looked up groundhog. It is in fact a rodent, part of a group of large ground squirrels (I knew it!) known as marmots. I did not know that a groundhog was sometimes called a land-beaver or a whistle-pig. Now I want a sports team in Canada named the Winnipeg Whistle-Pigs, because that would be a must-own jersey.
Next, think about the somewhat counter-intuitive "rules" of Groundhog Day: if the sun is out and the varmint sees his shadow, it's a bad thing, and we will have 6 more weeks of winter. Yet if it's cloudy and gray, it means we will have an early spring. I have never been able to find a numeric value attached to "early spring" but you always hear the 6 more weeks of winter part. In Chicago, an early spring could simply mean that there is no need for snow plows on St. Patrick's Day. The few times it's reached 60 degrees on March 17th it always seems we get hit with another snow storm shortly thereafter.
I then looked at a calendar. Groundhog Day is on February 2nd. The First Day of Spring is March 20th, 6 weeks and four days later. So if we're going by the Spring Equinox, then we're going to have 6 more weeks of winter whether the furry little whistle-pig sees his shadow or not, aren't we? Then it occurred to me that the Super Bowl is on Sunday, February 2nd this year, and it's being held outdoors in the cold weather climate of New York/New Jersey. My imagination began to run wild.
Since the Midwest and East Coast have been enduring a "real" winter this year, with plenty of cold and snow, there has been a lot of talk about the wisdom of holding the Super Bowl outdoors. What happens if there is a blizzard? Will people actually go to the game if the wind chill is 20 below?
There is an incredible opportunity here to combine Groundhog Day with Super Bowl Sunday to make Superhog Sunday.
The most well-known groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil from Pennsylvania. He emerges from Gobbler's Knob on the morning of February 2nd to prognosticate. However, New York has its own groundhog named Pothole Pete. Why not purposely leave snow on the field of MetLife Stadium, and move Pothole Pete there right now? This would give Pete some time to acclimate to his new, temporary home so he is ready for game day.
All the camera crews, media and security will be going to the stadium that day; they could just get there a little earlier. Pothole Pete could emerge from the under the snow-covered field at the same time that Phil is waking up at Gobbler's Knob, only Pete would get truly worldwide media coverage, adding to New York's pride. MetLife Stadium may even figure a way to sell some extra tickets, for people who are just coming out to see Pothole Pete, but maybe can't afford Super Bowl tickets, and probably would prefer to watch the game indoors anyway. Plus, if you don't control Pothole Pete's emergence from under the snow, like somehow forcing him to come out exactly on the 50 yard line, you have increased gambling opportunities. Imagine the money Vegas could make from all the people betting on the exact time and yard line that Pete pokes his head through the snow? I think the TV network would gain from increased viewership. While ratings are typically very high for the Super Bowl, there is still a significant amount of people who go out of their way to avoid watching anything at all related to the game. But who wouldn't enjoy watching a grounds crew try and catch a whistle-pig on a football field?
Yes, there are some logistical issues to be solved here, but I think there is still enough time to pull this off. Heck, I'm thinking about getting Superhog Sunday t-shirts printed right now. With the proceeds, I may even make a few Winnipeg Whistle-Pig jerseys, unconcerned that it is a completely fictional team. I am officially claiming intellectual property rights to these product ideas. While I'm pretty sure this is not the spirit of the quote, whether George Bernard Shaw or Robert F. Kennedy, I am reminded of the words:
"Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?"