I’m sorry. I really am. But I have no f$%#ing clue where to start with this game. So, disclaimer, after a Friday night spent watching the Sherlock season three premiere (don’t ask me how!) with friends, I figured the best idea was to get a little drunk and start writing this bit, to ensure that I really let all the Led out, so to speak. At least I’m assuming it’s lead that’s been in my stomach since Rodgers hit Cobb for the game-winner on the lakeside about the same time that Kaepernick hit Patton1 to set up the game-winning field goal in the desert, setting up this season opener rematch in Lambeau, like destiny or some s&#@. Anyway, I’m only kidding. I was already a little drunk. And now here I am, once again listening to Grantland’s Top 64 Songs of the Millennium, sipping chump-#$# 90-proof Knob Creek Smoked Maple whiskey like a b#$%^.2 Where to start? Hell if I know.
First of all, I am going there!?! To the game?!? Fro’ realz? Like what the??? I’ve been to two NFL games in my life. This was me at the first one:
Isn’t that awesome? It’s two weeks before my eighth birthday, we were in Denver to visit my aunt and uncle (I think?), you can sorta tell that I’m totally rocking a Colorado Avalanche jersey, oh and that’s freaking Mile High Stadium, oh and this game featured Brett Favre and John Elway in a rematch of the prior year’s Super Bowl, oh and the Broncos won 31-10 on their way to a second consecutive Super Bowl championship. Not bad.
For some reason I don’t possess a picture of me at my second NFL game, although possibly my mother does. It was something of a surprise before we went on some trip to visit family somewhere, as my mom sprung the tickets on me for an early birthday present, or something. On our way back home we stopped in Seattle and saw my 49ers beat the Seahawks 28-21 on Monday Night Football in the inaugural year of CenturyLink Field (back then just Seahawks Stadium3). Oh yeah and this was of course the game Terrell Owens took a Sharpie out of his sock after scoring the game-winning touchdown, signed the ball, and handed it into his “financial adviser”4, who was sitting close to that end zone, and was also the financial adviser of Shawn Springs, who was covering Owens on the play.5 Of course I didn’t know about that until seeing the news the next day. You know what I do remember? Having this stuck in my head on the way back to our hotel:
I didn’t even know who Jennifer Lopez was I don’t think, and I’m also pretty sure I didn’t quite know what music videos were yet, I just remember that song being on the radio constantly. We’ve come a long way since 2002! Oh, never mind, Blurred Lines just came up on my Grantland playlist. (I am not making this up.) So scratch that thought.
My first…thought upon getting invited to this 49ers-Packers PLAYOFF GAME was…I don’t remember, I was way, way too excited.6 But my second thought was:
Is this a trick? Does this mean the 49ers will lose? WAIT: I’m supposed to go with you, and your family and friends, who are all die-hard Packers fans, to a game AT Lambeau Field, a PLAYOFF GAME, in which the Packers are playing *my* 49ers, who have beaten the Packers *three* times in a row, including in last season’s opener at Lambeau, and in last season’s divisional round? What happens if the Packers win and I’m upset? What happens if the 49ers win and *all* of you are upset? Would you leave me in Wisconsin? Would I even have a problem with that? They make beer AND cheese in Wisconsin, right?
And after that it’s all a little hazy. Fortunately I’ve got texts and emails to refer to.
Email from My Father, #1
On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM, [Subject: fresh from Maiocco’s chat line. Be prepared.], [my father] wrote:
Comment From Joe: will you or any of the 49ers be wearing pantyhose in GB?
||Matt Maiocco CSN:I will be the only media member NOT wearing pantyhose. I’m going with Lulu Lemon legware.
All good fun, right? Top-notch 49ers beat writer Matt Maiocco knows how to do the cold, he’ll have some long underwear on, no big deal.
Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 1
Chaia Huff, Wed 11:46 AM, Jan 1, 2014
Chaia Huff, Wed 11:48 AM, Jan 1, 2014
Lots of layers. You have boots? Feet get the coldest. Why am I even telling you this? You’re from Alaska.
Charles Huff, Wed 11:49 AM, Jan 1, 2014
Get those boot warmer things that you crush
Chaia Huff, Wed 11:49 AM, Jan 1, 2014
Def. Hand ones too.
Chaia Huff, Wed 11:50 AM, Jan 1, 2014
Okay good ha. My feet and hands always freeze at games like this. The rest is usually ok
Snow pants if you have/can borrow some
Okay, it’s going to be cold. So cold that even people who know me well, and know that I have dealt with the cold, and that I’m from Palmer, Alaska, are reminding me, “Hey, it’s going to be cold!” Okay, cool. No big deal.
Email from My Father, #2
On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:44 AM, [Subject: Real Metrics!], [my father] wrote:
- Green Bay Weather Forecast from NWS:
- . . .
- Saturday Night A chance of flurries. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 5.
- Sunday A chance of flurries. Partly sunny, with a high near 14.
- Sunday Night A chance of flurries. Mostly cloudy, with a low around -5.
- Monday Partly sunny and cold, with a high near 4.
Hmmm. Solar noon is at 11:57AM on Sunday in Green Bay (I looked it up).
Figure maximum temp about 2 hours later, call it 2:00 PM: 14 degrees
Kickoff not until 3:40 PM at earliest (subtract 2 degrees per hour for lower angle sun): temperature now 10 to 11 degrees.
Sunset at 4:27 PM (appx. 47 minutes after kickoff.) Subtract 2 degrees per hour for no sun for 0.8 hours, temperature now about 9 degrees
4th quarter probably over around 7:00 PM (subtract 3 degrees per hour for no sun for 2.3 more hours: temperature now about zero degrees.
Overtime starting shortly thereafter: Should be a toasty negative 1 by game’s end, give or take a couple, and beginning to stabilize as it descends gradually toward negative 5 at around midnight. . .
Then, of course, we have to factor in wind chill . . .
Okay, so cold that my father, who has seen me in cold weather even more, is letting me know about the cold. Alright. It’s going to be really cold.
Email from My Father, #3
On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:23 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:
Email from My Father, #4
On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM, [Subject: Uhhh–Latest weather forecast], [my father] wrote:
NWS now predicting:
- Sunday Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 9.
- Sunday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -12.
Better subtract 5+ degrees from previous hourly estimates. Game temps should hit negative degrees by third quarter.
Most Anticipated Quotes:
Mike Iupati: “Bet they don’t grow much poi around Green Bay.”
Andy Lee: “Hey! My foot broke off!”
Head referee: “No spiking the ball! It might shatter!”
Email from My Father, #5
On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 2:36 PM, [Subject: ps], [my father] wrote:
Thermos bottles. Hot tea. Hot cocoa. Hot Beer.
–Hey–wasn’t Kaepernick born in Wisconsin?
Okay, it’s not going to be “really cold”, it’s going to be “really f^#$ing cold”. No worries though, everyone’s still making jokes.
Email from My Father, #6
On Wed, Jan 1, 2014 at 6:48 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:
And the latest:
- Sunday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 8.
- Sunday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around -17.
Revised estimate of kick-off temp: 2 degrees
At this rate, absolute zero may be within reach.
There is a rumor that for the first time in 200 years, there are unsold tickets at Lambeau.
And that Maiocco really is taking leg-wear.
At this point, I should probably note that my father doesn’t do this. Even my mother doesn’t really do this. My parents have more or less trusted me to clothe, feed, and bathe myself for, I dunno, at least a decade. I’ve been living in Chicago, a mile away from the Lake Michigan shoreline and its accompanying icy gusts, for three-plus years at this point. Sometimes we complain about how unreasonably cold it is (at home, or in Chicago), but I don’t think we’ve ever reached SIX emails before.
Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 2
Chaia Huff, Thursday 12:46 PM, Jan 2, 2014
My sister’s best friend.
Today 12:44 PM
[Name] is going to the game on Sunday. This is her get up
Wool stockings. Long johns. Yoga pants. Jeans. Snow pants. Hunting boots. 4 shirts. Sweatshirt. Coat. Jersey. Gloves. Neck/face cover. Scarf. Hat.
There was also an accompanying photo, although not knowing [name] I chose not to post it. Although [name] was wearing a Packers jersey over all of that, presumably Rodgers’, though with the scarf obscuring half of it all I could see was the ‘2’. Major props though. And at this point, I know for sure that even the hardcore Green Bay locals are taking this weather seriously. I had also become aware that the game still hadn’t sold out, which must have been the longest it’s taken to sell out a Lambeau playoff game in at least 25 years, although I also just completely made that up.
Email from My Father, #7
On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 12:52 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:
Forecast keeps dropping. Looks like below zero by kick-off. I wonder how long beer stays liquid at these temps?
- Sunday Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 5.
- Sunday Night Mostly cloudy, with a low around -19.
Please father, do you think you raised me in Palmer, Alaska and sent me off to Chicago, IL, without me knowing the temperature at which beer freezes? Which is 28 degrees Fahrenheit for “normal” three-to-five percent ABV (two-to-four or so ABW, and does anyone really know what all that’s about?). Honestly. Although I guess that doesn’t really answer your question, in terms of the how much time has to pass. In fact so far as I can tell, the Internet not only doesn’t have a “Given a beer of temperature X, how long will it take to freeze at temperature Y?” calculator, it doesn’t have a “Given some water of volume X and of temperature X’, how long will it take to freeze at temperature Y?” calculator, that doesn’t involve pipes. I’m shocked. And disappointed. Shame on you, Internet.
Email from My Father, #8
On Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 5:27 PM, [Subject: (no subject)], [my father] wrote:
Predicted high for Sunday now down to 2 degrees and still dropping.Pundits currently leaning toward “Ice Bowl II” as appropriate title. Jessica Simpson tweet: “So Tony, should I bring my sweatshirt?” Green Bay fans discovered dousing cheese hats in lighter fluid. Goodell irate because NFL so far unable to franchise hydrocarbons for sale at the game. Is considering delaying kick-off until Monday so legal team can file necessary paperwork. Projected high on Monday: -12.
And shame on you, father, for not knowing that Tony Romo is happily married to some woman who is not Jessica Simpson, but who was Miss Missouri, apparently. Romolicious was a long time ago. Cowboys “fans” still probably blame Jessica when he throws an interception, though. Also I love Tony Romo. Just putting that out there. And I’m pretty sure it was at this point that I, the Alaskan, who once skinny-dipped in 20 degree weather (Fahrenheit, and oddly enough, that was in California), started Googling things like “how to stay warm in subzero weather” and “how to not freeze to death”. (The key trick is cotton-less layers. Moisture on the skin for pretty much any period of time and you’ve got trouble. No sweating allowed, without an excellent wicking layer.
Email from My Father, #9
On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 1:20 AM, [Subject: Should now officially be designated the “ARCTIC BLAST” BOWL], [my father] wrote:
Ho hum. The latest for Green Bay from NWS:”ANOTHER ARCTIC BLAST IS EXPECTED TO MOVE ACROSS THE AREA SUNDAY… WITH THE COLDEST TEMPERATURES EXPECTED MONDAY INTO TUESDAY. AT THIS TIME…IT APPEARS THIS ARCTIC BLAST MAY BE ONE OF THE MOST SEVERE SINCE THE ARCTIC OUTBREAK OF FEBRUARY 1996. THE COMBINATION OF THE FRIGID AIR AND PERSISTENT 10 TO 20 MPH WINDS WILL CAUSE DANGEROUSLY LOW WIND CHILL READINGS IN THE 30 BELOW TO 50 BELOW ZERO RANGE AT TIMES SUNDAY NIGHT INTO TUESDAY. WIND CHILL READINGS THIS LOW CAN CAUSE FROSTBITE WITHIN 15 MINUTES.”(Bet you thought I was kidding about the lighter fluid.
You were right. It all froze. Nonetheless, only 3000 tickets now
“Arctic blast”? What kind of s#$% is that? Most times there’s a winter storm, or even a blizzard. This time there’s going to be an “arctic blast”? Hell no. WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
Anyway, it’s around that point that s%^@ got real, and I started to think that people could die at this game.
Email from Chaia Huff, #1
On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 8:21 AM, [Subject: Should now be officially designated the “ARCTIC BLAST” BOWL], [Chaia Huff] wrote:
Hahaha ohhhh man. I think we might die. What a great way to go.
We can try and get to Green Bay somewhat early and buy some warmers. That’s assuming they are not completely sold out everywhere. Hahaha.
Let’s try to leave around 8/8:30….is that ok for you? Will prob take 4 hours and that will give us some time to shop somewhere and get lunch and stuff?
My uncles and aunts usually all tailgate and we hit them up but something tells me they won’t be tailgating this week?!?! Hahaha
Sent from my iPhone
And it’s about at this point that I started to think that I could be one of those people. And also wonder things, such as the meaning of life, and sport, and if the 49ers score a touchdown in this game, am I morally obligated to strip shirtless in celebration? Probably, right?
Email from My Father, #10
On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 2:49 PM, [Subject: Breaking now: the “Arctic Outbreak Bowl, 10-minutes-until-you’re-dead” forecast], [my father] wrote:
New proof that NWS is part of the Sneak-the-Packers-into-the-Super-Bowl Conspiracy:Wind Chill AdvisoryURGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREEN BAY WI 1058 AM CST FRI JAN 3 2014 …AN ARCTIC OUTBREAK ARRIVES WITH NEAR RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES AND DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILLS EARLY NEXT WEEK… A POWERFUL ARCTIC COLD FRONT IS FORECAST TO SWEEP ACROSS THE REGION THIS WEEKEND AND SET THE STAGE FOR THE COLDEST AIR MASS SEEN OVER WISCONSIN IN YEARS. NEAR RECORD COLD IS EXPECTED FROM SUNDAY NIGHT THROUGH MONDAY NIGHT. THIS BITTERLY COLD AIR… COMBINED WITH WINDS OF 10 TO 20 MPH…WILL CREATE DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILL VALUES IN THE 35 BELOW TO 55 BELOW ZERO RANGE SUNDAY NIGHT AND AGAIN MONDAY NIGHT. UNDER THESE CONDITIONS… FROSTBITE COULD OCCUR IN 10 MINUTES.Ice Bowl-1 will soon look like a warm afternoon at the park.
By the end of the game, as the coldest air mass in years whistles in, there may be a risk of frostbite on exposed skin within 10 minutes. It’s not a lock yet, but this could be the coldest game in NFL history. I’m solidly on board with the whole “take-the-weather-seriously-so-I-don’t-die” plan at this point. Although if you check out that article, they’ve got Packers tight end Ryan Pickett expressing his belief that wearing long sleeves in this weather won’t turn his penis into a vagina, which is great, except it leaves me wondering, are any NFL players thinking that?!? In the age of Richie Incognito, does an NFL player literally have to let his skin freeze until it falls off to prove his manliness? I sincerely hope not.
Email from Chaia Huff, #2
On Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM, Chaia Huff <email@example.com> wrote:
Hahaha oh dear
Sent from my iPhone
Oh jeez. Should I even bother preparing at this point? You bet I should!
Yup, those are 12 10-hour hand warmers I purchased Friday afternoon. Go me, and my soon-to-be warm hands! I was planning on shoving them down into my boots to, but these might be activated by air, or something, and I may need a different kind that are activated by feet, or something? I’ll be investigating more fully before the game.
Texts from Chaia and Charles Huff, Round 3
Chaia Huff, Friday, 5:34 PM, January 3, 2014
Apparently the packers are giving away free hot choc and coffee during the game-2 per person. And free hand warmers.
Charles Huff, Friday, 5:35 PM, January 3, 2014
Cheaper than buying the rest of those tickets to avoid Green Bay blackout ;)
Chaia Huff, Friday 5:39 PM, January 3, 2014
[Upon receiving the picture of my hand warmers and me] Hahahaha I also bought 8
Charles Huff, Friday 5:40 PM, January 3, 2014
This is the most epic thing ever ever
And while expectations sometimes go unmet, and the game hasn’t happened yet (and, in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think there’s a tiny chance it wont?), I’m inclined to agree there’s some potential here. It might be a terrible football game, but if it’s a terrible football game that’s the coldest ever, it’s going to be making at least one all-time list for sure.
We all have those uniquely wonderful, bizarre, illogically ridiculous moments in life, that are ours. Chaia’s parents actually attended the Ice Bowl, which is so fantastic I don’t think I can handle it. Hell, look at this column–I obviously can’t. The Packers and 49ers are going to play playoff football in pre-windchill-adjusted subzero temperatures this Sunday. In front of a packed house that, at least technically, sold out around noon Friday.7 Thousands of us are going to be there watching. That is…So. Freaking. Awesome. I can’t wait.
Check back later for Part 2! After getting those first 3,000 words out of the way, I might finally be ready to actually talk about the game.