|Freezing fans still having fun in, around Lambeau Field|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 20 January 2008 12:50|
Kochon, 50, a lifelong Packers fan living in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., said he made the pilgrimage to Vince Lombardi's grave in nearby Middletown and had the pictures to prove it.
``I've always been a Packer fan. When I was younger, the Packers were the team in the 1960s, TV just started getting popular and whenever I'd turn it on, the Packers were playing,'' said Kochon, decked out in a Ray Nitschke jersey, Miller Lite lounge pants and a lined bomber hat. ``I'm like a little kid on Christmas Eve.''
Kochon was dressed appropriately for the Packers' NFC championship game with the New York Giants on Sunday night. At kickoff, temperatures were expected to be at or below zero with the wind chill approaching 20-below in Green Bay.
By comparison, it was 23 degrees at kickoff for the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and visiting San Diego Chargers in Foxborough, Mass. Though warmer than Green Bay, it was the lowest temperature for any of the three championship games played there over the years. The wind chill was 9.
Despite below-zero temperatures, Kochon and thousands of other fans continued the time-honored tradition at Lambeau Field's tailgates - beers, brats and cheese.
Some, however, were finding conditions somewhat daunting. Several fans couldn't quite get beer out of their bottles because they were frozen. Dan Englebert, 53, said he had shortened his family's tailgating activities.
``A little bit, it's not as elaborate as in warmer days,'' said Englebert, who has had season tickets in his family since about 1960. ``The Super Bowl year (in 1996) was probably the best time I remember, going to all the games throughout the year. Great games, that whole year was special and that sticks out in my mind.''
Whether or not this turns out to be a Super Bowl year for the Packers remained to be seen. One thing that was familiar, though, was the weather.
``It's one of our colder days, but we didn't set any records or anything,'' National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Skowronski said. ``We deal with this type of weather, it's not a constant thing up here, but on a typical winter, we will have a couple of days that are comparable to what we have now.''
Skowronski said the winds had died down and an advisory was not expected for wind chills 25 degrees below zero or worse. Skowronski said the temperature was expected to dip down to about 6-below zero by the end of the game, and that he planned to watch the game at home.
``You know, it's hard to get tickets,'' he said.
Many players in the AFC championship game were wearing short sleeves, and several, including linemen, wore gloves. In Green Bay, Packers' offensive linemen and some defensive linemen have a rule that they do not wear sleeves in any weather.
Left tackle Chad Clifton and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said they are used to the cold, even though there are times when their arms sting, depending on how bad the wind is blowing.
``If you're over 300 pounds you can't wear sleeves, so that's pretty much all of us,'' Pickett said.
Brett Favre said he would not wear gloves on his hands despite the cold.
One person who knows all about that cold is Bart Starr, the Packers' quarterback during the Ice Bowl game against the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 31, 1967 when the temperature was 13 below zero with a wind chill of minus-46.
Starr said the key for players dealing with the elements is their approach.
``I don't want this to sound trite, because it's not - it's attitude,'' Starr said. ``It's a mental thing and you, an individual, regardless of what's coached to you, you have to put it out of your mind and focus on what the purpose and what your objectives are. You have to push it away.''
Mark Curran, a 52-year-old lifelong Giants fan, said he thought it was cold, but hopefully it would be better than the Jan. 5, 1986 playoff game he attended.
``I actually went to the game 22 years ago, Giants-Bears in Soldier Field, and they lost 21-0,'' Curran said. ``If they even score a point today it'll be better than that was.''
Jeff Kahlow, of Fond du Lac, will have plenty of time to watch, too. Three hours before the game, he was dressed in a Lambeau Field hat complete with icicles and a replica Lombardi trophy and Title Town sunglasses. Kahlow was not going inside the stadium to the game, planning to watch it in the parking lot with big helpings of chili and brats.
``People are calling this the Ice Bowl II, so I had to carve out the frozen tundra look,'' Kahlow said. ``I threw the icicles on there, and I'll tell you, the outfit looks cold, but what's underneath is freezing because we've been standing here for a long time.''