Super Bowl sites always command an extensive security presence. / Tony Gutierrez, AP
Has Super Bowl XLVIII suddenly become a bigger target for a terrorist attack?
In light of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, it's a legitimate question with the NFL's signature event to be staged in February in the New York/New Jersey area.
The league won't reveal details of security plans for the Super Bowl but could be pressed to provide more assurances as further details emerge from the investigation in Boston as the NFL continues preparing for its first cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl in the nation's biggest market.
In addition to the game, slated to be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb 2, 2014, many Super Bowl-related events in the week leading up to the game will occur in Manhattan.
"We have been operating at a high level of security since 9/11 for all of our games and events," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. "We have been working closely the last two years with federal, state and municipal agencies on a coordinated and comprehensive security plan for the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl.
"We do not comment on specifics of these programs but continue to review and evolve our plans to ensure the safety of everyone attending the Super Bowl."
For more than a decade, the Department of Homeland Security has designated the Super Bowl as a "Level One" national security event that commands extensive resources. More than 50 federal, state and municipal agencies - including the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - complement the more than 4,000 private security staff and experts that the league annually hires.
There are pat-downs, medical detectors and a 300-foot security perimeter around Super Bowl stadiums. Aircraft are also restricted near the site on Super Sunday.
Many of the security measures extend to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa in 1991 when U.S. forces were preparing to liberate Kuwait and invade Iraq. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, efforts were ramped up considerably.
Even so, the NFL took an embarrassing hit at the most recent Super Bowl in New Orleans that could serve as a cautionary signal.
Two Savannah State college students breached security at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before releasing a video of their adventure that went viral. The students sneaked past more than a dozen officers at one checkpoint, then worked their way into the stadium before Beyonce's halftime performance by pretending to wheel in video equipment.
If it was that easy for two college kids to gain access to a supposedly secured area, it is apparent that some risks can always exist.
Follow Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell
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