By Erik Matuszewski
NEW YORK — Mike Pereira calls himself a California guy who doesn't like the cold. Never has. The National Football League's former head of officiating once wore a neoprene wet suit under his uniform while working an especially frigid game in Buffalo.
"You looked OK when you walked on the field, but by God if they ever forced me to be timed on a 40-yard dash, I'd still be running," Pereira said in a telephone interview.
Now a rules analyst for Fox Sports, Pereira said potential subfreezing weather at the Feb. 2 Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., will affect the seven-man crew of game officials more than any of the players on the field.
While the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks will get opportunities to sit on warmed benches and in front of portable heaters on the sideline, the officials will be far less mobile and standing on a field for about 3 1/2 hours at the coldest Super Bowl in the game's 48-year history. Bitter cold can cause more than just discomfort; it might lead to a loss of focus for those making snap rules decisions in the NFL's biggest game of the season, former officials said.
"You can find yourself being very concerned with trying to stay warm, making sure your hands are comfortable, getting the feeling in your fingers," said Jim Daopoulos, who spent 11 years as an on-field official and another 12 as an NFL supervisor of officials. "It's that aspect that's so important — to be able to concentrate during the bitter cold that sometimes occurs at the Meadowlands." MetLife Stadium is part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
The high temperature in East Rutherford, N.J. on Feb. 2 is forecast to be 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 Celsius) and the low 28 degrees, according to State College, Pa.- based AccuWeather Inc. The notoriously windy stadium could feel colder with the wind chill factored in. AccuWeather is predicting gusts of about 13 miles per hour (21 kph) in the Meadowlands for Super Bowl Sunday.