Ice Bowl + 50 Years

December 29, 2017

Bart Starr (15) sneaks into the end zone for the winning touchdown in the Green Bay Packers’ 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, better known as the Ice Bowl, on Dec. 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field.
(Photo: Associated Press)

This is a great oral history of the famous Ice Bowl, Packers vs. Cowboys, December 31st 1967. If you have any interest in football, read  the whole thing…

Eight Packers and four Cowboys who took the field that day would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Both coaches would be enshrined, too. The Packers had guile and experience and a field general named Bart Starr. The Cowboys had youth and superior team speed and their “Doomsday Defense.”

Yes, it would have been a great game on any day, in any kind of weather.

It would be played, though, on New Year’s Eve day in Green Bay, in the kind of weather that tested the limits of what a man could endure.

The official low temperature at Austin Straubel Airport that day was 17 below zero.

Wakeup call:

I guess it was Meredith who got the wakeup call at the hotel in Appleton, something like, ‘Howdy doody, Packer backers, it’s 7 o’clock in the morning and it’s 16 below.’ He said, ‘Sixteen below what?’ She said, ‘Go outside and you’ll find out.’ He went outside and said it was like getting hit in the head with a two-by-four.”

Game time temperatures:

“It was 13 below at kickoff, 20 below at halftime and 22 below when the game ended. That’s crazy. We shouldn’t have played.

Packer fans:

When we came out to take pre-game warm-up, there wasn’t a person in the stands. It was completely empty. We went back into the locker room and came out 15 minutes before kickoff and there was not an empty seat.

The field:

During the summer preceding the ’67 season, Lombardi spent $80,000 on an underground heating system, a first in the NFL. A grid of electric coils, buried inches below the surface of the Lambeau Field turf, were designed to keep the grass soft and provide a good playing surface in cold weather.

There was one problem, though. The field was covered overnight with a tarp, which trapped the heat and created condensation. When the tarp was removed before the game, the moist turf immediately started freezing.

Don’t put your lips on it:

We used a metal whistle in those days. I think it happened to (referee) Norm (Schachter) and Bill Schleibaum, the line judge. They tried to blow their whistles and the metal stuck to the their lips and pulled the skin right off their lips.

Again, Packer fans…

You can’t explain to people who haven’t been in that kind of weather how cold it was. Seeing those people in the stands … we didn’t have a choice, but what the heck were they doing out there?

Old school…

The thing I vividly recall, the offense is running on the field and the punt return team is running off and Ray Nitschke was on the field, screaming at the offense, ‘Don’t let me down! Don’t let me down!’ He was an intimidating figure. He had no teeth, snot was coming out of his nose, there was blood and mud on his uniform.

Final drive, Packers down 17 – 14:

Starr called the Packers’ final timeout with 16 seconds left and trotted to the sideline to confer with Lombardi. He told the coach that if he called a wedge play – a handoff to Mercein – he thought he could keep the ball, shuffle his feet and dive into the end zone behind the blocks of Bowman and Kramer.

Lombardi’s response?

“Then run it, and let’s get the hell out of here.”

Packers running back Mercein:

I was convinced I would be getting the ball. We didn’t have a whole lot of plays for short yardage. We had a couple dives and we had a wedge play. Bart said, ‘Brown 32, wedge right.’ I never heard him say, ‘I’m keeping the ball.’ I had 34 of the 68 yards on that drive. I thought that was going to be the cherry on the cake.

Packers win:

It was the greatest drive I saw in Packer history. And I covered a lot of games. Less than 5 minutes to play, they’re losing 17-14 and they go 68 yards. There were no mistakes, no fumbles, no dropped passes. Nothing. Nobody is ever going to have a drive like that in those conditions.





October 28, 2016

My daughter’s middle school volleyball team just finished an undefeated season.

To top off going undefeated in their league, they also beat their hated Brooklyn rival, a larger school in a different league (with generally good teams).



Go Brooklyn Friends. Apparently Quakers can kick butt…

Roots and Shoots

September 18, 2016

Jane Goodall has an organization in 130 called Roots and Shoots that encourages kids to come up with practical community ideas for conservation. She recently had an event in NYC and my daughter and some friends got to represent their school.

They got to meet Jane, discuss their idea and hear her speak.

Not your average Saturday…


My Daughter’s Swim Teacher Wins Gold

August 12, 2016

In an obscure bit of life trivia, my oldest daughter briefly took swim lessons from Anthony Ervin. Anthony Ervin won the gold medal in the 50m freestyle in the 2000 Olympics.

Over the next decade, Ervin sold his gold medal, donated the money to charity, then took off on a spiritual quest. He dabbled in everything from Zen Buddhism to the hard-partying lifestyle of playing in rock bands. Instead of a pool, he sank into depression, which, at its deepest, led to a suicide attempt and a death-defying motorcycle accident. Nearing age 30, he desperately needed a shot at redemption.

“For me, getting the tattoos was a way of reclaiming my own skin, and regaining control of myself,” Ervin said.

Armed with elaborate new ink, he went back to school and started coaching at a swim camp for kids. Those kids helped him remember what he loved about swimming in the first place.

My daughter was 6 at the time, so as a teacher he was overkill, but he was nice and good with the kids.

His story is fascinating.

I remember reading in 2012 that he was trying a comeback. He made the Olympic team but didn’t win a medal. I didn’t realize he’s back again in Rio. And he won a gold medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay. That’s a 16 year gap between gold medals. And he qualified for the final in the 50m freestyle.

He’ll be the old guy at 35. He’s certainly not favored, though he was tied for second in the semi-final heats. I’ll be rooting for him.

Thanksgiving 2015

November 30, 2015

I have no good pictures this year, it was a pretty low key (in a nice way) Thanksgiving.

My teenage daughter doesn’t like pictures anymore:


But she can do the 5×5 Rubik’s Cube…

Forcing My Music

April 23, 2015

I’ve mentioned how much my girls like our Amazon Echo for music. But tonight they were being bickering sisters and couldn’t agree on a station. And they were arguing over a Demi Lovato station vs. an Ariana Grande station.

I mean, seriously, how different would those stations be?

So I said, “sorry, I choose the station”. They said, “no jazz” (because that’s what I really like). I know they like old Elton John (Crocodile Rock) so I said “Alexa play Elton John station”.

We got old classics. I skipped some marginal songs, but made them listen to anything really classic.

  • Eagles, Hotel California (they grumbled at the beginning, but was ok)
  • James Taylor, Fire and Rain (too slow, but also ok)
  • Crocodile Rock (finally actual Elton John, danced along)
  • Bee-Gees Staying Alive (they totally knew this one and totally danced)

I had to skip some more and exceeded my skip limit, so we switched to the Pandora Elton John station:

  • Elton John, Candle in the Wind (too slow, and me explaining who it was about didn’t help, since they have no idea who Marilyn Monroe is).
  • Journey, Don’t Stop Believing (Danielle knew this one and liked it)
  • Van Morrison, Brown Eyed Girl (they vaguely recognized it, and liked it)

So total bickering turned into an old classics dance fest. Pretty fun.

OK Google

February 19, 2015

My daughter’s school uses Chromebooks and we got her one for home. I’m a fan.

Watching her use technology is mind-boggling compared to what anyone older than 20 grew up with. At the moment she is doing homework on her Chromebook, saving everything to the school’s Google Drive, while she Facetime’s her friend to discuss.

And in the middle of that, she needed a definition of the word feign. So she yells out, “OK Google, F E I G N”. Because like an Android phone, “OK Google” starts a Google search on a Chromebook. Only it wasn’t working, she was getting odd results. So I asked her why she was spelling it, and she said “because I don’t know how to pronounce it”. So I told her. “OK Google, feign”.

Only she just had her top braces removed this afternoon and she has a new retainer. First day with a retainer messes with certain speech sounds. So she’s getting results for sane, fame, same, frame anything but feign. Finally she takes out her retainer and gets the right Google search. She yells out “I got it!” in triumph.

The whole thing is comical. Actually typing “feign” apparently never dawned on her. My daughter is video chatting, speaking to the cloud, getting answers from the cloud, all while listening to music in the cloud.

And this is homework.