Every year, the Super Bowl moves farther away from "football game" and closer toward "trip through airport security." This year's model features some of the most restrictive regulations on transportation in the game's history. To wit:
• You cannot take a cab to the game.
• You cannot take a limo to the game.
• You cannot, we presume, ride a horse to the game.
• No tailgating, unless you're inside your own car.
• You can risk driving your own car for said tailgate, at a cost of $150 per pass, but if you don't leave now, you're going to get caught in traffic.
• Pack onto New Jersey Transit shuttle buses from Secaucus, N.J., which is every bit as inviting as it sounds.
• Shell out $51 per person for the NFL-approved shuttle system.
Yep, that's right. As part of what the NFL is calling the "first mass-transit Super Bowl," you get the distinct honor of being one of the first people to pay $51 (why $51? why not $50? or $48?) to leave from one of nine designated pickup locations throughout the greater New York-New Jersey area to get to the Meadowlands. Lucky you!
Why the no-taxis, no-walking, our-way-or-sit-and-wait-on-the-highway approach? As Sports Illustrated notes, the NFL initially cited "logistical concerns," which would make a lot of sense if, in fact, MetLife Stadium didn't have experience hosting football games 20 or so weeks a year. The NFL then fell back on the unassailable "security concerns," but as Sports Illustrated's Sean Conboy sees it, there's something more mundane at work here: a straight cash grab.
"The NFL thinks of you not as a human being whose loyalty and wallet contribute to its preposterous franchise valuations," he writes, "but rather as a number on an Excel spreadsheet, and the league is determined to wring as much guaranteed profit out of Super Bowl XLVIII as possible."
Sitting at home and watching the game on a big screen looks better all the time.