THE ICE BOWL
by Mary Kornely, Denmark Elementary School, Denmark, Wisconsin
Where were you on December 31, 1967? You probably wanted to be at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the site of the National Football League’s (NFL) Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. Anyone alive will remember this game known as the historic “Ice Bowl”.
The Dallas Cowboys came to Green Bay as upstarts seeking their first NFL title. The Green Bay Packers entered the contest as the two-time defending NFL champions trying to become the first team in the league history to win three consecutive championships.
What was already a great match-up became more intriguing by the sub-zero temperatures. The official game time temperature was 13 degrees below zero with the wind chill of minus 48 degrees. It was the coldest game in NFL history. Despite the frigid temperature the game was a sellout with 50, 861 fans in attendance. When the Dallas Cowboys won the toss, one warm weather reporter in the press box quipped, “Dallas won the toss and elected to go home.”
The following is an excerpt from the official Packers website (www.packers.com) describing the game.
“When the teams arrived at the stadium, they found the field frozen. A layer of condensation had built up between the field and the covering tarpaulin the night before. When the tarpaulin was removed and the field was exposed to the cold, it froze.
The Packers began the game like two-time defending champions. Bart Starr hit wide receiver Boyd Dowler with an eight-yard touchdown pass to give Green Bay a 7-0 first quarter lead. In the second quarter on third down and one, Starr connected with Dowler again, this time for a 43-yard touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.
But the Cowboys began adjusting to the cold and came to life in the second quarter. Defensive end George Andrie recovered a Starr fumble and returned it seven yards for a touchdown, cutting the Packers lead to 14-7. Another Green Bay fumble led to a second Dallas score – a 21-yard field goal by kicker Danny Villanueva. The Cowboys had stormed back and trailed by only 14-10 at halftime.
When the second half began, the Cowboys continued their defensive dominance and stifled the Packers. The Dallas offense started to move the ball and was poised for a score at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Running back Dan Reeves took a handoff, ran to his left, stopped to throw and hit a wide-open Lance Rentzel for a 50-yard touchdown and the Cowboys’ first lead of the game, 17-14.
After playing 37:15 without scoring, Green Bay found themselves down to their last chance. With 5:04 remaining in the game and trailing 17-14, the Packers received the punt at their own 32-yard line and began one of the greatest touchdown drives in NFL history. An unprecedented third NFL championship awaited 68 yards away.
“We were ready on that last drive,” said Starr. “We were totally focused on what we needed to do in order to go down and win. As I looked into the eyes of my teammates, I knew all I had to do was call the play.”
After driving 67 yards on a meticulous drive, the Packers had first-and-goal at the one-yard line with 30 seconds remaining. Two failed attempts by running back Donnie Anderson forced Starr to call the Packers final timeout.
On the sidelines, Starr suggested to Coach Vince Lombardi that he run “31 Wedge” – a play put into the Packers’ playbook by Lombardi after guard Jerry Kramer had noticed a weakness in the Cowboys’ short-yardage defense. Starr suggested he run the play instead of the running backs because of poor traction. Lombardi replied, “Then run it and let’s get the hell out of here.”
When the ball was snapped, Kramer and center Ken Bowman plowed into Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh, opened a hole and Starr lunged through for the touchdown and an unprecedented third NFL championship in a row.”
Now, over 36 years later, fans still have fond and frozen memories of that New Years’ Eve game. With the –13 degree weather, the fans recall dressing for the weather – boots with liners, coats with hoods, woolen hunting pants, quilted long underwear, several pairs of mittens – not gloves, stocking caps, and socks inside plastic bags with another pair over the top. Many report also taking blankets and sleeping bags to the stadium.
Jim Mostek of Denmark, WI recalls, “To really keep warm, we brought sleeping bags. When we were in our seats, we crawled into our sleeping bags and kept pretty warm. We also brought small boxes with newspaper layered on the bottom. We put our feet in them and this helped to keep our feet off the snow and keep them warm. Our only problem was standing during the exciting parts of the game with the sleeping bag on. But we did manage to cheer and fall over.”
Others looking back remember the lack of the now ever present blaze orange. In 1967, hunting gear was red or red and black plaid checkered wool. Another fan recalls the good amount of women arriving in fur coats, skinny boots and uncovered legs. This gave the appearance of a fashion show. One only wonders how long they lasted!
Fans recall carrying in various refreshments to attempt to ward off the frigid weather. Robert Shefchik of Kewaunee, WI remembers, “We had some wine with us and after the last touchdown we were going to have a drink and it was like slush!” Another fan recalls sipping on “Snowshoes” (brandy and peppermint schnapps) that afternoon. Once the game ended, he returned home, warmed up, and passed out cold, sleeping through New Years Eve.
The then twenty-year-old, Dave Van Lieshout of Green Bay, WI remembers “The way the field shimmered in the cold – like a glaze. Breaths looked like a fog or as if all were smoking.
The weather conditions did not improve as the fans ventured out into the stadium parking lot. “I went to the game with my brother. I remember getting to the parking lot after the game and his MG would not start. So… we spent more time in an icy cold car waiting to have the car jump started!” reminisces Mary Wadzinski of Green Bay, WI. Stalled cars seemed to be the order of the day.
Despite the frigid conditions, all that were in attendance that day remember three things: just how cold it was; exactly where they were sitting in the stadium; and Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak that won the game 21-17 with 30 seconds remaining in the game.
Fans still reminisce about the arctic conditions that day; about tearing down the goal posts, removing the plywood helmets from the sidelines, and walking on the ‘frozen tundra’. But, then 11-year-old Lee Pinchard of Green Bay summed up everyone’s deepest thoughts that day. “ I could care less about what happened. It was SO cold I just wanted to get out of there!”
- Write a story/newspaper article/radio or TV script describing a significant weather event.
- Research several significant weather events and graph the weather.
- Decide what type of graph would be best for your data. For example, a time series or histogram of scatter plot.
- Decide what information is most useful. For example, temperature versus time of day. As an example, the figure below plots maximum and minimum daily temperature for the month of December 1967.
- Write newspaper/TV/ radio headlines based upon a major weather event.
- Practice reading and understanding temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
- Select the most appropriate measurement for an activity.
- Do conversions between the two systems.
- Describe a major weather event:
- Map the appropriate location.
- Explain how the weather affected the people living in the area.
- Explain how the weather affected the environment.
- Interview citizens about their experience with this weather event.
- Gather information on a significant weather event using atlases, databases (such as NCDC), charts, and weather maps…..
- Explain how the weather effected the people.
- Discuss the social and economic impacts of the event.
- Compare weather forecasting today to that of 25years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, using appropriate vocabulary.
- Predict weather using various current methods of weather investigation, observations, and predictions.
- Compare these forecasts to those of a local weather station.
- Research current weather patterns, based upon climate studies and predict future patterns. Be prepared to defend your predications.
- Orally retell a favorite weather event and how it impacted you, your family and the community.
Art Daily and Jack Yuenger. 1968. The Lombardi Era. Milwaukee: Inland Press.
The following people answered an e-mail questionnaire about the Ice Bowl:
- Mary Wadzinski – Green Bay, WI
- David Wadzinski – Green Bay, WI
- Robert Shefchik – Kewaunee, WI
- James Mostek - Denmark, WI
- Lee Pinchard – Green Bay, WI
The following is the e-mail questionnaire that was completed by more than 40 people. I am grateful to everyone that replied, time and space did not allow me to use more responses.
ICE BOWL: GREEN BAY PACKERS VS DALLAS COWBOYS
DECEMBER 31, 1967
Age at the time of the Ice Bowl Game ____________________
Were you/family regular season ticket holders? _____________
If not, how did you get a ticket to this game?
Describe the weather that day.
How did you prepare for the game? (weather-wise)
Where were you sitting at Lambeau Field? (general area of stadium)
Describe what you remember of the game.
Recall your most VIVID memories of that day!
Is there anything else you can share with us about the ICE BOWL?
May I have your permission to use your name and this information for the Wisconsin Weather Stories project? YES NO
Please return ASAP!
Wisconsin Weather Stories project
Standards and Benchmarks
|Social Studies||A.4 A.5 A.6 B.1|
|Science||A.3 B.1 B.3 C.1 C.2 C.3 C.5 C.6 C.8 E.3|
|Math||D.1 D.2 D.3 D.4 E.3 E.4|
A.1 A.4 B.1 B.2 C.2 C.3 E.1 E.3 F.1