Sunday update: The weather is warming in Green Bay, although that’s a relative term, and the record may not fall. Full story here.
The Ice Bowl, the coldest game on record in NFL history, is about to get a run for its money.
Temperatures for Sunday’s wild-card game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, which kicks off at 4:40 p.m. ET in northern Wisconsin, are expected to dip under the 13-below figure that marked the classic NFL Championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Packers on Dec. 31, 1967. “Low temperatures may fall to 30 below over north-central portions of Wisconsin … Monday and Tuesday morning,” the National Weather Service office in Green Bay writes (via the Capital Weather Gang). “If you plan on being outside, be sure to dress warm using layered clothing if possible, as frost bite can occur in as little as 10 minutes in these conditions.”
Back in 1967, the Packers beat the Cowboys 21-17 on Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak on an icy field with 16 seconds left. As the Packers debated what play to call during a timeout, Coach Vince Lombardi famously told Starr to “run it and let’s get the hell out of here.” Good game plan. Jerry Kramer threw a block on Jethro Pugh, Starr followed him into the end zone and the Packers did just that. The game has grown in legend over the years and, on Friday, players were bracing for just that kind of teeth-chattering/shattering cold. (And being thankful for GoreTex.)
“Everyone says it’s not a big deal. It is,” 49ers guard Alex Boone, who played at Ohio State, said. “Any time you get below zero, it’s going to be a huge factor. Everyone says, ‘Aw, it’s just mind over matter,’ but no, that’s just super cold. I thnk it’s one of those things when remind yourself don’t be shocked when you go into this game. It’s going to be cold the whole game. You’re going to have to play through the game, but they’re going to have to play through it, too.”
Coach Pete Carroll, whose Seattle Seahawks have a bye this week, learned about the cold first-hand as an assistant to Bud Grant at Minnesota. “Bud would tell you that you’re going to be really cold and then you’re gonna get warm and we promise we won’t leave you out there,” Carroll told ESPN’s “NFL Live.” “He was pretty blunt about it. He never wanted the thought of going into the cold to be a factor, so he just kind of ignored that it was there and did a really good job preparing his teams.”
Two Packers linemen were thinking of doing something out of character for them — wearing shirts with sleeves. That’s how cold it’s going to be.
“I don’t want to get frostbite,” T.J. Lang said (via JSonline.com). “I usually go out a couple hours before the game just to check the weather, test out some gear. I usually just a wear a thermal undershirt and thermal tights, or whatever it is. I don’t know, man, I’ve been reading about some of the dangers about playing in that cold. About frostbite. My lips were almost frozen today. Today was pretty cold and I think it was minus-10 with the wind chill. If its going to be minus-40, that’s going to be cold. Once it gets below zero, cold is just cold.”
Josh Sitton agreed. “If it’s so cold that it’s going to affect my skin, then I’ll wear sleeves. I’m not into that whole toughness thing. Its not really my thing – I don’t really care about that. I’m worried about protecting Number One. Its definitely a game, with the weather, I’ve never played in. Especially coming from Florida. I’ve played in a few cold ones – but nothing like this. It’s going to be a challenge. We have the advantage of getting to practice in it. You kind of get used to it. Once you get to a certain temperature, it’s tough for anybody to get used to it. We get to get outside and handle the ball – the team – in these conditions. So that’s the biggest thing for us.
“It’s going to definitely challenge our toughness.”
— Erin Andrews (@ErinAndrews) January 3, 2014
What about the fans, though? The Packers plan to offer fans free hand warmers, hot cocoa and coffee to Cheeseheads who leave the HDTV and comforts of home.