Monday, January 07, 2008

Kick-Off Time at the Ice Bowl

Today we visit the Ice Bowl game again after a day off. It is now close to kick-off time, and we see long-time NFL Referee Norm Schachter (above) bundled up against the cold conditions at Lambeau Field. In his book “Close Calls,” Schachter relates the following stories about officiating the game that frigid New Year’s Eve 1967: “Sunday morning I received my wake-up call. I knew I had a problem. The phone (in the Northland Hotel) rang and (I heard) ‘Good morning… Time to get up. It’s clear and cold. Twelve below zero and temperature falling fast. Have a good game.’ At breakfast we discussed the cold weather. None of the officials had gloves or earmuffs. Three of (us) had thermal underwear. We needed more clothes. Fortunately, the owner of a sporting goods store opened his place for us. We bought earmuffs, thermal underwear and thermal socks.”

“Here’s how I walked out onto the field that afternoon to work the championship game in Green Bay. I had on my usual underwear, two pair of thermal socks besides the football stockings, thermal underwear — tops and bottoms — turtleneck nylon ski sweater, plastic baggies on my feet over my socks to try to keep my feet warm by keeping the heat in, a large plastic cover that the cleaners use to return your suits under my football striped shirt, earmuffs, gloves, and my white cap. I still got cold. The extremities — fingertips, toes, nose — just didn’t get warm. When the game ended, I got the hell out of there. My left heel became frostbitten and I had a lulu of a cold for eight days.”

“Would you believe that the championship game between Green Bay and Dallas, December 31, 1967, was played without a whistle being blown all afternoon? Believe it! It was 25 degrees below zero. I blew my whistle to start the game. It was the last whistle blown that day. Joe Connell, my umpire, tried to blow his whistle on the runback of the opening kickoff. All he got was a half soft ‘tweet.’ The wooden balls in our whistles had frozen. When Connell took the whistle out of his mouth, half of his lower lip came with it. He wasn’t using a (rubber) nipple on his whistle. All game long we yelled, ‘Stay away,’ ‘Keep off him,’ and ‘Watch it.’ No one knew the difference.”


Cajun4life said...

ahh the ice bowl.. I remember it was the first championship football game I ever watched on tv.
I was nine years old and was hooked as football fan after that day. Thanks for posting the memories.

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