ESPN.com news services
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Sunday’s playoff contest in Green Bay could be one of the coldest NFL games ever played, rivaling the subzero temperatures of the legendary Ice Bowl of 1967.
Temperatures at Lambeau Field are expected to be minus-2 degrees when the Packers and 49ers kick off and are expected to drop as the night continues. At the so-called Ice Bowl, also in Green Bay, it got down to minus-13.
The Packers plan to pass out 70,000 hand warmers, packets that fit inside gloves or boots and stay warm for up to 10 hours. The team will also provide free coffee and hot chocolate.
Leon Perkins is a 49ers fan from temperate Stockton, Calif. He’s going to the game and says he’ll dress warmly and keep moving. He says the freezing temperature will make the game more memorable.
The Philadelphia Eagles also find themselves dealing with troublesome weather, as they have two to three million pounds of snow that needs clearing from their stadium complex ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Saints.
The process of clearing the field began around 7:30 a.m. ET Friday, according to Jason Miller, the Eagles’ vice president of facility operations.
“We bring approximately 600 workers in … to remove the snow from all the stands, including the field,” he said in a release. “We started clearing the stands at about 7:30 am. Hopefully by midnight tonight we’ll be done. If not we’ll be here later finishing it up. We’re clearing all the stairs, the ramps, the seats, the inner bowl, the field, the plazas, the parking lots. Everything we have control over. It’s a big, valiant effort.”
Temperatures in Philadelphia are projected to be in the 20s with a wind chill in the teens.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles has a better record than the Saints’ Drew Brees in games played at or below 32 degrees. But 1-0, Foles’ record, isn’t much of a sample size. Neither, for that matter, is Brees’ 2-3 mark.
“We’ve all played in that kind of weather before,” Brees said. “Not on a consistent basis, but you kind of make preparations. You prepare as well as you can, at least mentally. Once you’re there, it’s football. It’s about execution.”
Lambeau Field has a heating system buried beneath the turf to keep the field from freezing, but it failed during the Ice Bowl, leaving the field hard as cement. The system was upgraded in 1997 to include 30 miles of heating pipes, so players on Sunday can expect softer landings.
The Ice Bowl took a major toll on players, said Ed Gruver, the author of a book called “The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game.”
Packers coach Vince Lombardi didn’t let most of his players wear gloves, so several, including quarterback Bart Starr, suffered varying degrees of frostbite, Gruver said. One Cowboys player had respiratory problems attributed to breathing in so much frigid air, he added, and Dallas quarterback Don Meredith’s calls were inarticulate because his lips were frozen.
“Now players wear Under Armour. They have gloves; they have these giant heaters. They’ll be OK,” Gruver said. “Back then, most of them just wore long johns.”
Information from ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan and The Associated Press was used in this report.