NEW YORK: Seattle punter Jon Ryan and Denver offensive guard Chris Kuper, the Super Bowl 48 players from the coldest climes, laugh at the idea it will be oppressively chilly on game day.
The first outdoor Super Bowl in a cold-weather city will be staged on Sunday in suburban New York, when the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks meet for the National Football League crown.
Kuper, from Alaska, and Ryan, from the Canadian plains of Saskatchewan, are among the chorus of players who do not expect cold conditions to play a factor.
“We’re not worried about the weather,” Kuper said. “We’re weatherproof.”
Forecasters predict conditions just above freezing with almost no chance of rain or snow, although it still figures to be the coldest Super Bowl ever.
The previous cold mark for the Super Bowl was 39 degrees (3.8 Celsius) at the 1972 title game in New Orleans.
Kuper, 31, from Anchorage, has seen temperatures as low as 53-below zero (minus-47 C) in his college days when he played American football at the University of North Dakota in Grand Falls, near the US-Canada border in the upper Midwest.
“We practice in cold weather,” he said. “We have experience with it.”
Ryan, 32, grew up in Regina and played Canadian football for his hometown university before spending two seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, leading the league with a 50.6-yard average in 2005.
The CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders are beloved in his hometown, so much so that growing up, the NFL played second fiddle to the local heroes.
“I grew up on the CFL,” Ryan said. “It was CFL first and then the NFL.”
Punters get more work in the CFL because offenses have only three downs to gain 10 yards instead of four as in the NFL, but Ryan adapted to a shorter and narrower field quickly when the NFL came calling.
After two seasons with Green Bay, Ryan was cut just before the start of the 2008 campaign and signed by Seattle a week later. More than five years later, he plays a key role for the Seahawks in their Super Bowl title quest.
“We’re not happy just being in the game,” Ryan said. “The cold, it isn’t even talked about. The biggest factor is the wind.”
Swirling conditions or tricky gusts could play havoc with Ryan’s attempts to pin the Broncos, and the most prolific one-season scoring attack in NFL history guided by star quarterback Peyton Manning, deep in its own zone.