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NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders broadcasts after an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. The Colts won 30-27. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Pierce: Will cold ruin Super Bowl, or is Deion a wimp?
Sports on TV » Florida native thinks cold-weather game is a mistake; others disagree.
First Published Jan 21 2014 12:37 pm • Last Updated Mar 24 2014 11:35 pm

NFL Network analyst/former all-Pro defensive back Deion Sanders gave a great answer to a question football analysts regularly receive at this time of the year: "Who do you like in the Super Bowl?"

"I really don’t like anybody," Sanders said. "You know why? Because I really don’t care who wins."

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It’s not that Sanders is uninterested in the Super Bowl, which airs Sunday, Feb. 2, on Fox. Quite the contrary.

"I just really want a good game," he said, adding that he is concerned that a decision made by the NFL years ago will make it hard to get a good game no matter who wins Sunday’s conference championship games.

"I’m upset that the Super Bowl is in New York because weather will play a factor," he said. "Weather should not play a factor in a game of that magnitude and multitude.

"If [Denver Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning goes to New York, you know what’s going to happen," Sanders said. "Peyton Manning does not fare well in the cold."

Well, we’ll see when Manning and the Broncos take on the Seattle Seahawks. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" star Terry Crews — who played in the NFL for six seasons before turning to acting — wasn’t buying into Sanders’ concerns, however.

"He’s a Florida guy. But I came up from Michigan," Crews said. "No, football players play in the cold. They play in the heat.

"They play everywhere. This is more about the comfort of the fans."

"It’s not like football isn’t played in the cold," said Fox Sports president Erick Shanks. "We were just in Green Bay."

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Odds are that it will be warmer at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey when Denver and Seattle meet than it was when the 49ers beat the Packers in Green Bay on Jan. 5. The temperature at kickoff was 5 degrees with a windchill of minus-10.

The following weekend in Seattle, "It wasn’t cold, but it was rainy," said Fox sideline reporter Erin Andrews. "And it was very windy. I spoke with New Orleans head coach Sean Payton coming out of the half and he said, ‘It’s not the rain that’s bothering [quarterback] Drew Brees, it’s the wind.’ So we weren’t dealing with a blizzard there, but we were dealing with the rain in Seattle."

Fox Sports NFL analyst Howie Long observed that the elements have affected previous Super Bowls. He pointed to the 2007 matchup between Indianapolis and Chicago that was played in a downpour in not-so-sunny Miami.

"Certainly, that had an impact on that game," Long said. "But I think 50-plus million people tuned in, and I think it’s one of the things that I believe draws people to football. ... I think it embodies what football is really all about."

(Long was way off on the viewership — 93.2 million viewers watched that game.)

And, he suggested, winning a game in a potentially cold, snowy stadium could end up being a point of pride for either the Broncos or the Seahawks.

"If I’m a player, do I want to be a part of winning a Super Bowl in that kind of an environment? A special, unique Super Bowl like that?" Long said. "Yeah, I do. I really do. Forty below, 20 below, driving rain, sleet, regardless. Whatever it is, bring it on. We’ll play in it."

If you’re keeping track, Sanders won two Super Bowls (in Miami and Tempe, Ariz.); Long won one (in Tampa, Fla.); Crews, who was mostly a special-teams player, never played in a Super Bowl.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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