For the first time in over twenty years I’ve spent a weekend watching NFL playoff games. Have watched part or all of all four. The last one, the Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers—which is on the tube as I write—, is being played, for those who don’t know, in Green Bay in sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures. I am reminded of the Packers-Dallas Cowboys championship game on December 31, 1967, in Green Bay. The temperature was -13°F/-25°C (and without the wind chill factor). I was a boy in Milwaukee—where the temperature was exactly the same as in Green Bay (200 km to the north)—and a fanatical Packers fan. As it was too cold to step outside the house, I couldn’t go over to my best friend’s, so had to watch the game at home all by myself (I have no memory of my parents—who had zero interest in football—that day or where they were). The game is called one of the greatest ever in US football and it is indeed. I remember feeling confident through most of it but when the Cowboys went ahead 17-14 on the first play of the 4th quarter—on Dan Reeves’s 50 year halfback option TD pass to Lance Rentzel—I started to panic. The Packers’ final drive was no doubt the most stressful twenty minutes—or however long it was (5 minutes on the football clock)—of my life, then and since. I didn’t have my eyes open when Bart Starr went over the goal line with 13 seconds left for the winning touchdown. I was even panicky as Don Meredith threw hail Mary passes as the game ended (you never know). What a f**king game! The Super Bowl victory against the Oakland Raiders two weeks later was an anticlimax.
This 13 minute YouTube documentary tells the story of the Ice Bowl (also here). Some great lines, like this one on the temperature that day: “It is called Russian winter, the kind of brutal cold that made Napoleon and Hitler flee in panic from the doorstep of Moscow”… Yeah, but not the Green Bay Packers!
Turns out it’s not so cold at the moment in Green Bay after all: 4°F/-16°C. C’est rien.