On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS January 12, 2015 # 523 Up next…”Trying Conditions”!
After review…This piece is being written on Friday before the NFC Divisional playoff game that was played on Sunday, January 11, 2015 between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers in historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the first time the Cowboys had played in a playoff game in Green Bay since 1967. The National Weather Service predicted a game-time temperature of 15 degrees.
I was part of the eight-man NFL officiating crew (six on-field with two alternates, one of whom was me) that arrived in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Saturday, December 30, 1967 for the NFL Championship game. This was prior to the merger of the two professional football leagues, with the winner meeting the AFL champion in the AFL-NFL World Championship game, which it was called before the name was changed to Super Bowl.
Saturday evening was cold but pleasant in Green Bay, with a full moon rising as we went to dinner and an early-to-bed evening. We awaken Sunday morning to find sub-zero (and plummeting) temperatures, but no snow – too cold to snow. Unprepared for this, we quickly had to find a downtown store to supplement our game attire. As one would expect on a Sunday morning all businesses were closed and locked, except for an Army-Navy store, where the owner was taking year-end inventory. After much teeth-chattering persuasion, he opened his store.
We bought all the warm clothing we could find to keep out the freezing temperatures, including large garbage-type bags. We cut holes in the bottom of these to pull over our heads, and used adhesive tape to secure them around our waist. W.L. Gore didn’t invent Gore-Tex until 1969 –so he was no help for this game.
At game time, temperatures were still dropping from a minus 10 degrees with a wind-chill factor (man, that wind in cold weather is brutal) estimated somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees below. As an alternate my assignment was to be on the Packers’ sideline and keep track of downs and distance as well as fouls called and enforced – writing it all down wearing three pairs of mittens!
Players on the bench huddled near the heaters – quarterbacks and receivers with their hands, kickers with their feet and me with my back-side nearest the warmth. Green Bay head coach Vince Lombardi, a New York-born rugged Italian, stood stoutly on the sideline (away from the heaters) the entire game. Prior to the last play, Packers quarterback Bart Starr came to the sideline to confer with Coach Lombardi (subsequently described as “Starr over Kramer at right guard for the touchdown” by announcer Ray Scott). Lombardi’s words to Starr, who recommended the play, were “Well, run the damn thing and let’s get-the-hell outa here, it’s getting cold”. Final score: Green Bay 21, Dallas, 17.
Will you maintain focus and determination when faced with trying conditions?
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