For this one, another exciting factor was the weather in Green Bay. In the last few days, it looked like this might be the coldest football game in the 94-year history of the NFL. It wasn't quite that cold, but it probably made the coldest 10.
We invited our relatives to our first football party for the Ice Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys on Dec 31, 1967. (We had foolishly blown our most of our tiny net worth on an early color TV set.) It looked a lot colder than this one.
Several possible explanations spring to mind:
- People have learned a lot about how to deal with cold since 1967. The 1967 players looked more like they were suffering than the 2014 players. Hydration, nutrition, taking care of yourself in bad conditions...
- The relatively small amount of extra clothing allowed a pro football player has certainly gotten more protective. Gore-Tex (which is probably not named for 49ers running back Frank Gore) and similar insulating materials that "breathe" are much better than in '67.
- Today's players get paid lots more than the 1967 players did, even after inflation. This may make them more motivated (read "tougher") than their predecessors.
- We viewers are older and have faced more cold weather than when we watched at 22 in 1967. That probably works backward for explaining why the wayback game looked colder. Anyway this point sounded good as I typed it...
Obviously today's game was a good one, about as closely-fought as can be (49ers 23, Packers 20).
I must say that in the games this weekend, I saw more excellent quarterbacks
than in any other 4 games I can remember. Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and Aaron Rodgers are almost as good a stable of 6 QBs as you can put together out of the rest of NFL history, at least if I can exclude Unitas, Tarkenton and Montana from the historical group.
We asked our relatives to compare this game with the '67 Ice Bowl. Merikay's brother Gil says "the Pack lost by a lot less than I expected... Weather not near as bad as '67. '67 was a classic. This one was just another game to be forgotten."
My cousin John says "at least we can say we taught Colin well, while here in Cheese Land!". (Colin Kaepernick was born in Milwaukee and raised in Wisconsin until age 4. His Polish last name comes from his adoptive parents.)
Merikay says "it was a bit like watching your children play a game. You root for both, are happy for the winner, and feel bad for the loser."
I say the Packers (like past 49er teams) rely more on individual heroics than this years 49ers, who seem to be more team-oriented, minimizing heroes. Maybe the 9ers were marked by last year's Super Bowl loss, and are laying low for another chance at the top prize.