Teams practice indoors
Temperatures in the teens, wind and ice forced the Packers to scrap plans of practicing outdoors at SMU on Wednesday and to move to the new, $4.5 million indoor field at nearby Highland Park High School. With more of the same weather expected, Green Bay is likely to remain on the high school campus today and Friday.
“We feel like this will not affect us from a preparation standpoint at all,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said.
Highland Park’s facility opened in August, and is comparable in quality to the one at TCU that the Pittsburgh Steelers moved into Wednesday. Both buildings are NFL-caliber.
Such quality at TCU is one thing. But, a high school?
That’s how it goes in Texas, where there are megamillion prep palaces all around.
“That’s ridiculous,” Packers receiver James Jones said of Highland Park. “We barely had a football field at my high school in California.”
“We barely had grass,” added defensive lineman Ryan Pickett, who grew up in Florida. “An indoor practice field? That’s unreal.”
Highland Park also has a nifty NFL tradition. Alums include Pro Football Hall of Famers Doak Walker and Bobby Layne, as well as Detroit
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, a recent No. 1 overall draft pick.
The Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility was a lot more comfortable than being outdoors for the Steelers, but still a bit chilly. The building isn’t heated, so it was about 51 degrees during their practice.
“One thing we’re used to is weather,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “We’re used to adjusting as we have to, and we got all our work in. It was a good day.”
Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing until Friday afternoon. There’s a 40 percent chance of more snow falling Friday. But it’s supposed to be sunny and clear on the weekend, with temperatures perhaps reaching 60 on game day.
The Mid-American Conference is well represented at the Super Bowl, with 15 former players suiting up for either the Packers or Steelers.
“Over the years, the MAC, we’ve felt that we’ve been overlooked,” said Green Bay receiver Greg Jennings, who played at Western Michigan. “We have a ton of guys that make a huge impact in this league.”
Among the six former MAC players on the Steelers roster is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Jennings is one of nine Packers who share conference ties.
Only the Southeastern Conference with 18 has more former players in this Super Bowl. There are also 15 players from the Big Ten.
“You definitely don’t have to be from a BCS conference school,” said Jennings, who initially committed to Michigan. “I got the opportunity to establish myself as a student and then as a player. It worked out great for me. If I had the chance to do it all over again I would choose Western. It allowed me to progress a lot quicker and mature a lot quicker.”
Last chance for ring?
Charles Woodson knows this could be his last chance.
He’s been to the Super Bowl once—and lost—in 13 NFL seasons and knows it’s probably not wise to count on anything beyond Sunday’s matchup with Pittsburgh.
“I just understand that where I’m at in my career, I don’t know how much football’s left,” Woodson said Wednesday. “And so before you leave this game, I think every man wants to win that championship. This is a golden, golden opportunity to get that accomplishment.”
The cornerback was with Oakland when the Raiders lost the 2003 Super Bowl.