GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The c-c-cold couldn't stop the New York
"I didn't notice the weather at all," said Giants running back
Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for a touchdown and had another nullified
by a penalty in the fourth quarter. "It only lasted for three
hours, but this championship lasts for a lifetime."
At kickoff, the temperature was 1 below zero with a wind chill
of 23 below. The temperature dropped slightly over the course of
the evening in the second coldest home game in Packers' history
behind the Ice Bowl.
A local group handed out 30,000 packets of hand warmers, while
videographers had quilts and blankets over cameras in an effort to
keep them functioning. Packers officials said 12 to 15 fans were
treated for minor cold-related problems.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning said the extreme cold caused them
to cut short their pregame warmups, going through only about a
fourth of their routine before taking it back indoors because
receivers Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress couldn't feel their
"Me and Amani and Plaxico came out about two hours before the
game to do our warmups," Manning said. "We said, 'Hey, we've got
to go in.' My left hand was numb, my receivers, they didn't have
any hand warmers, their hands were done."
During the game, Manning ran in place at times and kept his
hands buried in his jersey pouch in an effort to stay warm, and his
teammates were huddled in heavy overcoats.
"On the sideline, they had the heaters, I stood by that the
whole game," said Manning, who went 21-of-40 for 254 yards. "I
never took my helmet off, I just stood by the heaters, stayed warm,
had big gloves around my hands to keep my hands warm, that was the
most important thing."
Giants running back Brandon Jacobs said the conditions were
"I would've played in negative 50 to play in [the Super Bowl]
and that's what we did," Jacobs said.
By comparison, it was 23 degrees in North Pole, Alaska, and at
kickoff in the New England Patriots' 21-12 victory over the
visiting San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game in
Foxborough, Mass. Though warmer than Green Bay, it was the lowest
temperature for any of the three championship games played in
Foxborough over the years. The wind chill was 9.
But the Packers discounted the weather.
"It seemed like some guys just had some cramping problems,
which was maybe playing so hard, being out there," said Packers
defensive end Cullen Jenkins.
No matter the temperature in Green Bay, fans were determined to
have a good time, taking what little snow wasn't shoveled out
before the game to make snow balls.
Herb Kochon, a lifelong Packers fan from Atlantic Highlands,
N.J., said he recently made the pilgrimage to Vince Lombardi's
grave in nearby Middletown and had the photos to prove it before
coming to his first game at Lambeau Field.
"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 and Miller Lite lounge pants.
"I'm like a little kid on Christmas Eve."
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. "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."
Many players in the AFC Championship Game wore 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. About half the players on both
teams went sleeveless.
Brett Favre played without gloves despite the cold, while
Manning wore a red glove on his nonthrowing hand.
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 with a
wind chill of minus-46. One fan at that game died of exposure.
Starr said the key for players dealing with the elements is
"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."