Playing Super Bowl at home fields could have altered history

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What if this was the way it was every year? What if there was home-field advantage every year?

(OK, at the top: Yes, if the Super Bowl were to abandon “neutral-site” games and just go the way every other sport now goes, home field to the best record, then Super Bowl 2021 would be in Kansas City, not Tampa. Duly noted.)

It will never happen, of course, because as the Hal Holbrook (who we lost this week, RIP) once told Robert Redford in one of the great lines in movie history: “Follow the money.” There is too much economic windfall (during normal times anyway) for the cities who regularly compete to host the Super Bowl. Plus, a Super Bowl in a city like Green Bay or Buffalo could get logistically challenging.

Still, when you think about it, it has long been unfair that after 18 games (and sometimes 19) across 20 weeks, the team with the better record of the last two standing isn’t afforded the benefit of home field. The best team the Giants ever had, 1986’s 14-2 juggernaut, had to travel 3,000 miles to play in the franchise’s first Super Bowl against the Broncos, a team it didn’t only best by three games in the regular season … it actually beat them in the regular season … in Denver!

Didn’t matter. Super Bowl XXI was played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., which is exactly 2,768 miles from where Giants Stadium once stood in East Rutherford, N.J., and just 1,048 from where old Mile High Stadium used to sit on the outskirts of Denver.

And what of the 16-0 ’72 Dolphins, who had to travel 2,734 miles away from the Orange Bowl to the L.A. Coliseum to get to 17-0 (against the Redskins, who themselves had to travel 2,681 miles from RFK Stadium)?

(Now, if you’re a historically good team, as the ’72 Dolphins and ’86 Giants were, you’ll say you could’ve played the games on Pluto and the results would have been the same, and you’re probably right. The dynasty Steelers had to play the Rams in their backyard, Pasadena, in 1980 and still won by 12 points, the only other time a “road” favorite had to overcome the issue the way this year’s Chiefs will have to.)

So we know that the ’86 Giants were unaffected by the site of the game — and if there were a home-field advantage, it stands to reason that the 39-20 pummeling they gave the Broncos at the Rose Bowl might’ve been even worse at Giants Stadium.

But how would home field have affected our other Super Bowl champs? What would it have meant to the ’68 Jets, who would’ve had to play Jan. 12, 1969, in the old neighborhood yard in downtown Baltimore, Memorial Stadium, and not the Orange Bowl? Those Colts were virtually untouchable at home, and that 18-point spread might have been even wider if it had been a Baltimore home game. Would good fate (and better fortune) still have prevailed in the Charm City?

And what of the Giants? They, after all, learned first-hand that having home field isn’t an automatic. In the ’58 Championship Game that essentially made the NFL, the Giants lost a late lead and then lost in overtime at home, at Yankee Stadium, in front of 64,185 howling fans. Four years later, they lost another championship game there, 16-7 to Green Bay.

Still, other than ’86, the Giants would’ve been forced to play their other three Super Bowls on the road. That 1990 team was resilient, it was title tested … but would it really have been able to pull off what it pulled off in Tampa if they’d been forced to play Super Bowl XXV in Buffalo, where the Bills had scored 95 points in two playoff wins, where just seven days earlier they had slaughtered the Raiders, 51-3?

And if the Patriots had been going for history and for 19-0 in Foxborough rather than the Phoenix suburbs on Feb. 3, 2008, how would that dynamic have reduced the odds of what the Giants were able to do? Does the ball still cling to David Tyree’s helmet? Is the game even close enough for that play to matter? And the same questions applies to Feb. 5, 2012, subbing Indianapolis for Glendale, Ariz.

Maybe, as it turns out, things are just fine with the Super Bowl the way they are.

Vac’s Whacks

WHO, exactly, was clamoring for an NBA All-Star Game this year?

I am a players man all the way, every sport, every league, I believe they should hold out for every nickel they can get … but someone is going to have to explain to me how Trevor Bauer (career ERA: 3.90) is worth the $40 million-plus a year the Dodgers are paying him (and that the Mets were willing to pay for him).

Looks like the Yankees are going to have the fourth-highest payroll in baseball this year, which is a good thing, because everyone loves it when you can use a word like “plucky” about the Yankees.

Does Patrick Reed’s foot wedge count against the 14 clubs allowed in his bag? (We kid because we love. Even the PGA could use a good villain or two to keep everyone interested.)

Whack Back at Vac

Joel Bloom: Is it time to revisit Sandy Alderson’s reputation as a good baseball man? He presided over the steroid use of Mark McGuire and Jose Canseco in Oakland, and two of his hires with the Mets have been accused of sexual harassment.

Vac: I think Sandy Alderson is a man who has 40 years of mostly sterling work as a high-profile baseball executive who probably needs to embrace more modern and aggressive vetting and more sophisticated hiring practices.

Eugene Colon: You say, “… sometimes it isn’t about the points you allow.” I say, the Nets are getting overmatched on the defensive end — particularly in the paint — by just about every team they play. At the very least they need at least one more “big” who can defend.

Vac: I hear this kid Jarrett Allen in Cleveland is pretty good. He available?

@Dan_Gartland: I am irrationally ticked off from your Tom Brady column describing Fairfield as a “New England town.” It’s barely over an hour from Manhattan and Jets/Giants outnumber Pats fans like 10-to-1!

@MikeVacc: If Dan’s had been the only complaint about Fairfield, I’d have shrugged it off. It wasn’t. You belong under the Gotham umbrella. My apologies.

Kevin Bryant: If Brooklyn wins the NBA title, will The Post cover read “Nothing But Nets?” P.S.: As a lifelong Knicks fan, I hope to never find out.

Vac: Even a little gentle interborough trash talks warms my heart on a cold February morning.

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