I was reading about today’s NFC Championship game between the New York football Giants and the Green Bay Packers. The article mentioned it might turn out to be the coldest game played in NFL history. They say the temperature in Green Bay will be a balmy 3 degrees tonight at the 5:30 PM CST kickoff.
I’ve never been to Green Bay, but I did once watch a football game in the brutal cold. On January 15, 1994, I went to Orchard Park, New York to watch the Los Angeles Raiders lose to the Buffalo Bills 29-23.
Back in my Air Force Days
I was in the Air Force and stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base located in upstate New York. ESPN shows it was the 3rd coldest game played in NFL history. They show the temperature was zero degrees with a windchill of minus-32. I remember it being minus-40, but maybe it’s warmed up 8 degrees since then.
It wasn’t just cold, it was alien planet cold.
The worse part about watching a football game in the brutal cold is sitting in one spot for hours at a time, not moving. You are just sitting there. No matter how much you bundle up, you are going to get cold. The number of layers of clothing you put on only helps to delay the inevitable.
You will get cold and once you do, it’s impossible to get warm.
We had seats on the two-yard line, 13 rows up from the field. I remember things sounding different in the cold. The Raiders moved the ball and scored a touchdown. They then attempted an extra point. When the kicker’s foot hit the ball, it made a bizarre sound. It didn’t sound right. It didn’t sound like a shoe making contact with a leather football. The ball failed to go through the uprights and instead bounced off the crossbar. It sounded like a cannonball hitting the metal crossbar.
Buffalo Bills fans are stupid
I remember a Bills fan sitting in the end zone seating taking off his clothing from the waist up. His bare, pale flesh was exposed to the elements. Security grabbed him and took him off somewhere. I guess he wanted to get on TV. I don’t know if he got on TV, but his stupid stunt earned him a permanent spot in my personal memory banks.
I went to the game bundled in layers of clothing:
- Los Angeles Raiders Starter pullover jacket
- Air Force extreme weather parka
- Sweatpants and long underwear under my pants
- Air Force issued cold weather mummy sleeping bag
I’m glad I did. That said, it took me about three days to get warm.
The ironic thing about that game was how it contrasted with the prior Raiders game I attended. It was at the Los Angeles Colosseum where they lost to the visiting Cleveland Browns. I think it was the last road game the Browns ever won. The temperature on the field was 100 degrees and I walked away with a nasty sunburn.
Even though the Raiders lost the game, I was glad I went. It turned out to be Howie Long’s final game. He was always my favorite player.