January 10, 1982 –
That day a huge football game was scheduled between the visiting San Diego Chargers and host Cincinnati Bengals. Not just an ordinary regular season game, this match up decided who played in the Super Bowl. But this game would be unlike any before it. Yes, there have been cold football games, but this one possibly was one of the coldest in the history of professional football.
The first person on the field for the Chargers was Hank Bauer. Bauer made it a point to run out on the field and begin his pre-game routine of fielding punts and kickoffs. Just one problem…
Warming up was going to be virtually impossible. See the ambient temperature outside was -9 Fahrenheit.
Oh but it gets worse. Add 35 mph winds and now you have an actual temperature that’s -59 below zero! The prior week San Diego played the Miami Dolphins in South Florida and the temperature there was in the 80s with high humidity. In fact so humid that star tight end Kellen Winslow was helped off the field from exhaustion.
Just to give you an idea how cold that is, the coldest inhabited place on earth is a place called Oymyakon, Russia where on February 6, 1933 the temperature was recorded at -90F below zero.
By the end of the game, anything having to do with being warm would become a joke you told friends or over drinks.
Just to keep his feet warm, Bauer kept his cleats on top of the heater near the Chargers’ bench. The cleats began to melt but Bauer said he couldn’t feel any heat coming from his footwear. Players on the Cincinnati side wanted to show some bravado by not wearing more layers of clothing and exposing their skin to the brutal conditions. After a few minutes in the cold they opted to rub Vaseline on their arms to keep the skin from cracking.
Even Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts had icicles hanging off his beard.
While the players struggled with the frigid conditions, fans didn’t fare much better. Fans like Bengal supporter Gary Berliner sat on the floor of the men’s restroom wrapping paper towels around his feet. Why? “It’s a wood product, it’s the best insulation,” Berliner said. He had multiple pairs of socks on which caused his feet to perspire and of course made them even colder.
Now if you had a ticket to a major sporting event and had to go, what piece of clothing or equipment would you bring to stay warm?
Heated Stadium Seat Cushion – take a look by clicking here
“A ch-ch-chilling recollection of the Ice Bowl” by Frank Luska
“Cold reality: ’81 AFC title game a struggle from start to finish” by William Bendetson
Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/9877325/The-coldest-inhabited-place-on-Earth.html
Fans’ Burning Spirit Helps Them Survive – Martin Hogan Jr. Jan 11, 1982