By: Beasley Reece
The ghost of Vince Lombardi and the thousands of former players passed on just rolled over in their final resting places so as not to face the reality of today’s Eagles/Vikings game postponement. Our game was once the last bastion for Gladiators. Never again will I honor it so.
The NFL’s greatest moments have been in weather that would make today’s snow storm little more than a play date for toddlers. Games played in normal conditions are rarely given nicknames. The Miracle at the Meadowlands one and two are excellent examples. Most of our truly famous contests were decided in weather born at the hands of devils.
In 1967 the NFL Championship game between the Packers and Cowboys at Lambeau field is known as the Ice Bowl. The temperature was -13 with wind chills noted as low as -48.
My favorite is the Snow Plow Game. It was played at New England in 1982. A convicted burglar by the name of Mark Henderson used a snow plow to clear a path for kicker John Smith. Smith made the field goal to give New England the 3-0 victory. The Burglar was said to have stolen the game.
The Eagles lost a playoff game to Chicago in the Fog Bowl at Soldiers Field.
January 1, 2008 The Packers hosted the Giants in a below 0 contest. The Pack had defeated the Seahawks the week before in a major snow storm.
Perhaps the coldest game ever played was a battle in Cincinnati in 1982. The wind chill value was -59 for the Bengals and Chargers.
Throughout the NFL’s history games have been played without consideration of cancellation in temperatures ranging from minus 13 to 13 above 0.
There have been understandable exceptions. Games have been moved up or back a day to avoid Hurricanes. In 2004 the Dolphins moved their season opener to Saturday from Sunday to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Ivan. And New Orleans moved their season after Hurricane Katrina.
Lightning, Earthquakes, and Hail storms have all interrupted kickoffs.
BUT MOVING A GAME BECAUSE SNOW IS GOING TOO FAR!
VIEW PHOTOS: Digging out the Linc
The hardy Philadelphia sports fan would have defeated the elements with layers of clothing, adult beverages, and bad attitudes. The League will argue that the postponement was due to public safety concerns. But the before mentioned games had fans to protect and roads to clear.
The League executives are now weather watchers who should seek employment in an Arena League. The men who built the game have just had their sacrifices reduced and sullied. As a former pro I am embarrassed. My generation would have entered the arena with shirt sleeves rolled up. We greased our skin to avoid the sting of the cold. We wrapped our feet with plastic bags between our shoes and shocks to shield the bite of icy surfaces. My indictment is not against today’s players. Its the new NFL. The teams were once owned by football families. Men like Wellington Mara, The Rooneys, Paul Brown, Curly Lambeau, Lamar Hunt, and Clint Murchison. They would have never postponed this game. As for today’s players, they would have taken the field with the same bravado that I entered my St. Crispin Days.
Part of me wonders if I am protecting the players through some fraternal allegiance. Perhaps the NFL understands that today’s athlete must be protected. Contact rules have been changed to keep kids born playing EA Sports from getting hurt. We were different from today’s player. We didn’t meet online. We meet at the playground come hell or high water to play until darkness or the distant voice of aggravated mothers ended the game.