I know it isn’t going to happen, but if you were the NFL Commissioner and you’re prime directive was to protect the integrity of the game, would you do it? The NFL will delay games if lightning is in the area, as will golf, baseball, college football, and soccer. We are looking Sunday at a three to four hour event in life-threatening conditions, not a 30 minute passing of a storm front.
The situation: It now appears that this will be the coldest weather ever for an NFL game, surpassing the 1967 “Ice Bowl”, also played in Green Bay. It will be colder in absolute terms and also in wind chill. It should be dark by the second half kickoff, and absolute temps will be in double digits below zero. Winds will be strong and gusty, sending windchills below -50°F.
The game starts in late afternoon, allowing fans to get good and hammered before entering the stadium. Exacerbating conditions for frostbite include alcohol in blood and diabetes (sorry, Packer fans, but we’ve all seen the crowd shots from Lambeau Field.)
If there is one fan base that knows how to dress for cold, it is Packer fans, but a playoff game will draw a lot of casual fans from warmer locations as well as a sizable contingent from San Francisco. We all know that a group of college boys will strip down to their skivvies and show they know how to spell P-A-C-K-E-R-S in body paint. Exposed skin will start to freeze in under a minute in those conditions, and once your core body temp begins to fall, just putting your clothes back on won’t fix that problem.
I’m not too worried about the players with their activity level and heated seats, but there are a hell of a lot more people around the field today than there were in 1967. Guys holding the boom mikes to capture game sounds, guys whose job it is to keep camera cords from being trampled, sideline reporters for TV and radio, etc. There are a couple of hundred people surrounding the field that aren’t members of either team.
Finally, when the game is over and the fans lurch frozenly to their cars, how many won’t start after sitting in below zero temperatures for five or six hours?
I wouldn’t want to be on call at a Green Bay hospital Sunday night. I’m guessing there will be well over 100 medical evacs and at least one fatality at the game.
If I were commissioner, I’d have made the call a few days ago and had the game played on Saturday in temps 30-40° warmer.