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Freezing temps in NJ doesn't mean cold Super Bowl

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Freezing temps in NJ doesn't mean cold Super Bowl

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The NFL wanted a cold-weather Super Bowl and it would have had the coldest one had the game been played at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, when temperatures were below freezing in the New York-New Jersey area.

Was it really cold though?

Will Mahoney, 53, of Paramus didn't think so, even though most area residents woke to a dusting of snow on the ground. With little or no wind, the Giants' fan left his jacket in car and walked into the Meadowlands Racetrack wearing a light Kansas City Chiefs' sweatshirt. It was a gift, and the walk was pleasant.

``I love the idea of the Super Bowl coming here,'' Mahoney said. ``Around the league there seems to be some flak because of the weather, the cold. But you know what? I think it's great for the area. It's nice out now, but it could be 10 degrees next year. I have no problem with that either. The elements are part of the game, so if it that's the way it is, that's the way it is. ``

A couple of miles away in Carlstadt, restaurant owner John `Red' Palsi sipped a beer and looked forward to a big day, and even bigger one next year for the 48th Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2014.

``Football has always been good for us,'' said the 79-year-old Palsi, who turned his go-go bar into a restaurant 12 years ago. ``When the Giants and Jets are here, it's always been good for us. Super Bowl, playoffs, no problem. There will be a crowd here tonight.''

Roughly 1,300 miles away in New Orleans, Al Kelly wrapped up a week of work.

The chief executive and president of the organizing committee for the 2014 Super Bowl, Kelly has laid the groundwork for the first cold-weather Super Bowl and the first one to be played in a stadium that serves as the home for two teams, the Giants and Jets. The former American Express executive now has a year to make sure everything comes together.

The countdown has started on the game that many worry will return football to the old days, and whims of elements.

Meteorologist David Stark of the National Weather Service said mid-day temperatures in the area on Sunday were in the 20s and were not expected to top 30 degrees.

``For the date, that's a little below normal, but as far as being fairly cold, it's been much colder on this date in the past,'' Stark said.

Recent Super Bowl Sundays in New Jersey have been pleasant. Two years ago when the game was played in Dallas, temperatures at the Meadowlands were a pleasant 46 degrees. And it was 40 degrees - with no wind - a year ago when the game was in Indianapolis.

Despite the freezing temperatures on Sunday, Stark said the winds were 5 to 10 mph and calm in some area. But there was almost no wind at the Meadowlands three hours before kickoff of the title game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, who played in New Orleans.

The coldest temperature for a Super Bowl played outdoors was 39 degrees on Jan. 16, 1972 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. Dallas beat Miami 24-3.

The job of getting the New York-Jersey area ready to handle all the events leading up to the game was given to Kelly a little less than two years ago.

Starting with little, he now has 29 full-time employees working in two offices in the Super Bowl organizing committee. The group is closing in on the $60 million needed to run the events surrounding the NFL title game, has signed on 12,000 volunteers and enlisted an impressive list of corporate sponsors. He still needs to enlist 6,000 volunteers and make sure all are trained.

``As a host committee, our Super Bowl is really Monday to Saturday,'' Kelly told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from New Orleans. ``That's what we are all about. That's when the economic benefit that will come about for the local communities, the businesses and the government is going to happen with the large amount chiefly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.''

On game day next year, the only job the organizers have is to make sure the teams get to the stadium. The NFL then runs the show.

Kelly and 16 members of his team visited every Super Bowl site in New Orleans this past week, sat in on all the meetings and walked the streets to see how things were going. The goal is to be prepared for 200,000-plus people to descend on our NY-NJ area and to offer them the opportunity to have some fun, spend some money and benefit the region.

``My other hope is that with the extraordinary entertainment opportunities in the region that on Feb. 3, that Monday, people are thinking they only saw half of what they would have liked to have seen and it spurs them to make a return trip to the area,'' Kelly said.

Palsi, the owner of Redd's which is less than a mile from the 80,000-seat stadium, said the Super Bowl is going to bring droves people to the area, much like when the Meadowlands Racetrack opened in 1976. Nightly crowds at the track were in the tens of thousands and local businesses benefited.

Palsi was diplomatic about his favorite team.

``If I bet on the Jets, I'm a Jets' fans,'' he said. ``If I bet on the Giants, I'm a Giants fan.''

Outside the restaurant, Jim Clark of Little Ferry was taking a cigarette break. He wore his Jets' baseball cap and a Giants' shirt. He wasn't shy saying he would prefer the Jets played in the game.

``I think it will be a good turnout no matter what'' the 56-year-old Clark said.

Back at the racetrack, Jeff Salerno, 56, of Franklin said most area residents wouldn't have a problem coming to watch a cold-weather game, and he felt the economic benefit would be good for the region.

``Me, I won't be nowhere near here on Super Bowl Sunday,'' Salerno said. ``Sure it will be different. New Jersey wanted it. I'll watch it, like I am going to tonight, on TV.''

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When I knew: Redskins' Chris Thompson on his journey from untouchable runner to the NFL

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USA TODAY Sports

When I knew: Redskins' Chris Thompson on his journey from untouchable runner to the NFL

At some point, every sports fan has some form of the same dream. Play quarterback in the NFL. Roam centerfield in the Majors. Splash 3-pointers in the NBA. Whack forehands at Wimbledon.

Along the way, most of us realize we peaked as kids. There's no hope of climbing that mountain or ever coming close, though on certain days and for fleeting moments... Nah, not happening.

That comprehension often comes early in life. For true romantics or delusional souls, perhaps a decade or two later.

For others, the dream turns into reality. Whether they stormed the courts as prodigies or developed their craft over time, a moment occurred when thoughts shifted. When they recognized they might be different. This series of interviews with local professional athletes focus on that moment.

Next up, Redskins running back Chris Thompson

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I think for me it truly started in high school. As a kid, I was always faster than everybody. When I played Little League ball that was no problem for me. I was more nervous about getting tackled. I didn’t want to play.

I had one Little League season -- I think I was in fifth grade I believe -- where I was tackled one time the whole season. That was in the championship game. Other than that, every time I touched [the ball] it was a touchdown.

When I got in high school, I was on varsity since my freshman year. I started at running back my sophomore year, playing against older guys, against teams that were bigger and better than us. I was able to perform well. I was like, alright I can probably make something out of this. That’s when I really got a good feeling about [my ability].

As far as making it to the NFL, honestly, it didn’t hit me until my sophomore year [at Florida State].

We got a new running back coach, Eddie Gran. He just started talking to me, teaching me about what I needed to be good at to make it to the league and be able to play for a long time because he helped produce a lot of running backs that made it (Deuce McAllister, Ronnie Brown, etc).

Just being around him and learning from him really helped me and gave me the confidence that I could make it to the NFL and be a very good player.

Then you reach the NFL. At what point did you think you got this?

That was really the toughest challenge, realizing (I could play in the NFL). It didn’t really hit me until my fourth year.

My rookie year it didn’t really work out too well (Lost role as the primary kick returner after four games before suffering a torn left labrum).

(Released and then signed to) the practice squad my second year so I was doubting everything at that point. Just being cut made me doubt my ability. Really one of the lowest parts of my entire football career.

My third year I knew it was my job because Coach (Jay) Gruden told me that. I could do my job, but excelling and going beyond expectations was really around my fourth year when it hit me. I finished that season out healthy. My first full season. (Thompson played all 16 games for the only time in his career to date, finishing with 49 receptions and 705 yards from scrimmage.)

After that, I was able to go into the offseason feeling really healthy for the first time. Feeling like myself once again like the senior year of college version of myself. As you could see last year (2017), I had a wonderful year.

Any specific moment in the NFL that had you thinking, I got this?

We were playing against the Eagles Week 16 in my third year to win the division. I think the first play I came in was in the red zone and I ended up scoring a touchdown on “choice” route against Kiko Alonso, who is a linebacker I have a lot of respect for. That really gave me some confidence.

I had a few more plays where I was just running routes, kind of getting open during that game and a few more games. I was OK, if I can be consistent, keep catching the ball and keep getting open, I could really be great at this. Then the game started slowing down for me in my fourth year. Then I got more comfortable. I got way more patient in my routes. It was like, dang, dude, with your footwork and acceleration, you can really get open against these guys and make some plays.

The transcript was edited for length and clarity.

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With his rookie contract in rearview mirror, what's next for Redskins WR Jamison Crowder?

With his rookie contract in rearview mirror, what's next for Redskins WR Jamison Crowder?

ASHBURN — By now it's well-documented that the Washington Redskins' season did not go as planned, and you can say the same for fourth-year wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

Crowder, 25, was limited to just nine games due to a lingering ankle injury for most of the season, and then a separate late-December wrist injury. He finished the year with 29 catches for 388 yards, well off his career norms.

The Redskins have received plenty of production from Crowder (221 catches, 2,628 yards, 14 touchdowns) at a discounted price during his first few years in the NFL. That is about to change.

“I’m comfortable here,” Crowder said. “Obviously, I have a really high interest level in coming back. It’s going to be in discussion with my agent. There hasn’t really been much discussion as far as right now.”

Washington's 2015 fourth-round pick raced out of the gate in his NFL career setting a Redskins rookie record for receptions (59). Barring a contract extension in the next two months, Crowder will be free to sign with any team in March and there is no guarantee that he will return.

That would leave the Redskins even more desperate for proven options at wide receiver, arguably the most disappointing position on the team during a second straight 7-9 season.

Josh Doctson led Washington receivers with 44 receptions, the lowest total since 1998 when Michael Westbrook had a team-high 44 among the pack. Given that uncertainty at receiver, where Paul Richardson also missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, Crowder’s teammates want him back.

“Got to pay him,” running back Chris Thompson said. “I mean – that’s the business side of it. I really, really, really do hope that we can get him back. He’s been a key part of this offense since he’s been here. I’m excited for him. He’s really gonna help himself be in a better situation for him and his family and his kids and his future. He’s made a good resume for himself that he can make himself some really good money. I hope that it’s here.”

Crowder missed those seven games with a right ankle injury sustained in a Week 5 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He spent time in a walking boot. After three consecutive years of 59 catches or more, Crowder dropped to 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

“You want to keep the nucleus of the team together at all costs,” Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams said. “But it’s the NFL and it’s always easier said than done. I try not to get into the whole free agency deal because those guys got to make business decisions for them and their families.”

The Redskins could decide that slot receiver Trey Quinn, a seventh-round draft pick in 2018, could fill Crowder’s production at a much cheaper price and allow them to upgrade the position through the draft or free agency. But that will come at a risk.

Crowder has proven to be one of the league’s better slot receivers when healthy. Quinn was on IR twice with a high-ankle sprain as a rookie. Acknowledging that injuries to quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy hurt the overall production of the group, can the Redskins really afford to let more talent leave the building at wide receiver?

Having completed the final year of his rookie contract, Crowder admitted the uncertainty of his future feels a little different.

"Yeah, I guess you could say it's a little weird. I just don't know, you know, what's going to happen right now. I just have to kind of wait and see what's going on."

Despite the unpredictable nature of Crowder's situation, he didn't mince his words on where his hopes lie going forward.

"I have a really high-interest level in coming back."

Brian McNally contributed to this story.

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