Monday, January 17, 2022

Outdoor football -- you gotta love it

I enjoyed this weekend’s NFL Playoff Games.  It’s nice that they actually mean something.  And it seems like every team but four make it to the playoffs and the head coaches of those teams are fired the day after the regular season.  The only job with less security was Trump's Chief-of-Staff. 

But I especially love these playoffs for a perverse reason, and you’re welcome to hate me for it.  I love them because I’m in Southern California.   Football games are always way more dramatic when they’re played in horrible weather conditions.  Snow bowls — the best.  Rain bowls — super fun.  Hail, fog, hurricane winds — that’s entertainment.  Subfreezing temperatures (like in Buffalo) — now you got a football game.  (Dick Enberg told me he was calling a Bengals-Chargers playoff game from Cincinnati and it was so cold someone poured him a hot cup of coffee and by the time they set it on the desk in front of him it froze solid.  Now THAT’S cold, friends and neighbors.)  

But the elements do add an element.  If you can’t see the yard markers that’s a game you’re not turning off.   They don’t want to hold Super Bowls in those outdoor winter venues because it would inconvenience the high rollers paying to see the game, and Lady Gaga would freeze in her trashy Tinkerbell outfit.   

Too bad because some of the more memorable games in NFL history were legendary because of the weather.  The famous ice bowl in Green Bay between the Packers and Cowboys.  Championship games between the Giants and Colts in arctic New York.  

And the enjoyment is heightened by watching in 70 degree weather.  At least for me.  

That said, I don’t know why anyone actually attends these playoff games in punishing weather.  The players are getting paid and they can go into the locker room at halftime.  You’re just sitting there.  I know some of you spartan readers will say “it’s an experience,” but so is waterboarding.  

Were I to be in Buffalo yesterday I would have been inside with a warm fire, food at the ready, my own bathroom, a better picture, the yellow stripe, and no chance to catch COVID at a super spreader.  The only downside is maybe catching an Applebee’s CHEERS commercial (more on that tomorrow).  The coffee you buy at the stadium can’t be any warmer than Dick Enberg’s.   Of all the major sports, football is really made for TV.  

There was a time in the NFL when home games wouldn’t be televised unless they were a sellout (which was rare).  Here in LA, the Rams played in the Coliseum that seated 100,000.  We NEVER saw a home game.  Ever. Not once.  The very first Super Bowl was held in LA.  Both CBS and NBC covered it.  Both were blacked out in Los Angeles.  The point is, in those days you had to attend the game if you wanted to watch it.  Not now.  When the Rams returned from St. Louis and played in the Coliseum while their new stadium was being built, it was downright eerie to finally see a Rams home game at the Coliseum.  Like sneaking into an X-rated movie when you were a kid.

Anyway, if you attended any of the games this past weekend I hope you didn’t get frostbite, COVID, trench foot, hypothermia, pneumonia, or toxic shock.  But if your team won I’m sure it was worth it.  I’m turning up the heat just writing this. 


Roger Owen Green said...

7F in Buffalo, -5F wind chill in BUFFALO at kickoff. And then it REALLY got cold, especially for New England, who gave up SEVEN touchdowns in SEVEN Bills' drives!

I'm from upstate NY, so you can guess where my loyalties are...

Mike Barer said...

That's probably why I was such a big Rams fan as a youngster. Because they were blacked out at the time in the LA area and the Seahawks were not around, my guess is that they televised them in areas maybe not too far away but without Pro Football.
I lived in Walla Walla, WA at the time and loved the Rams. How could you not, I loved the name "Fearsome Foursome" and the fact that they had a quarterback playing in the Coliseum named "Roman Gabriel".
The thing was, as loaded as that team was, they could never seem to win the big games. The big teams back then were the Colts and the Packers.

Rays profile said...

You have to remember, Ken, folks in the North are used to this. We don't stay inside, we go skiing, skating, ice fishing and the occasional football game. But we do know how to dress for that weather.
By the way, the guy front and center in the earflap cap was my neighbor growing up. I was there too, only about 50 rows higher, getting what heat we could from the sun and the scoreboard lights.

Gary said...

I've been a Buffalo Bills season ticket holder since the mid 1960's, so I've sat out there in every kind of weather imaginable. It may sound trite, but when you know how to dress, the cold doesn't even bother you. Layers and more layers.

For me, the thrill of seeing NFL football live still makes braving the elements worth it. And the coldest, worst weather games are a fun shared experience to talk (and exaggerate) about for years to come.

We're still chasing that elusive Super Bowl victory. People wear T-shirts here that say "Just ONE Before I Die!" But once in a while things all come together, like Saturday night, when the Bills delivered a thorough humiliation to none other than Bill Belichick. I'd sit in any kind of weather to witness that!

Brian Phillips said...

Were you in Buffalo to watch the game, it would have been necessary to have the ticket in hand. IT WAS SOLD OUT!

bmfc1 said...

Tony Kornheiser went off on the use of the Cheers song in today's podcast:
at around the 10-minute mark.

Jeff Boice said...

Actually, back in the 60's- early 70's the NFL TV blackout applied to all the games broadcast in the home teams market-regardless of ticket sales. The blackout extended maybe 75 miles. I've been told that back then in the Chicago area people had special antennas designed to pick up the South Bend IN CBS station (which was on UHF and just outside the blackout zone) to watch the Bears. I don't know if there were similar situations in other NFL cities.

The Rams at the Coliseum with the Fearsome Foursome in those white jerseys-wonderful! When the Rams returned to the Coliseum they brought back those jerseys I felt like I had gone back in time 50 years. I wanted to change my set to black and white.

DyHrdMET said...

I attended a Jets-Patriots Saturday night game in NJ in December about 20 years ago. It was so cold that night (how cold was it?), we lasted almost 3 quarters. The only reason I went was that someone gave me the tickets and I've only attended 4 NFL games in my life (they were kind of hard to come by in NJ for many many years).

Don G said...

Season ticket holder for the the Chicago Bears from 1962-2007. Enjoyed being at the old Soldier Field during "Bears Weather". In the 20th Century Games were under 3 hours, fans became long-time friends and we all felt like part of the team. Things went south when we became an audience of a Made For TV Event. While fans at home were watching a plethora of commercial breaks, we sat there waiting and waiting for action to resume. When a 15 minute halftime turned into a 12 minute TV break, we rarely got back to our seats before the 2nd half kick-off.And games went on way too long. Nowadays the crisp action and a full fan experience can only be found at High School Football games.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

It was insane and dangerous that they played that Bengals-Chargers game in those conditions in Cincinnati in 1982. Couldn't they have moved the game to San Diego and play at midweek, however costly? It was a football game, for God's sake, not a World War II battle.

I hope the NFL has the good sense never to allow something like that again.

Matt said...

The Bengal -Chargers game you refer to the temp was -9 with a wind chill of -57. It was the1982 AFC Championship game.

ventucky said...

As a current midwesterner who basically lived 50 years in So Cal, the cold is over hyped. There are outlier games, like the one in Buffalo, and probably the one next week in Green Bay, but the Bengals game was played in 32 degree weather, which sounds frigid if you are from LA. But all it takes is a few layers of the proper clothing, and the only thing that even feels the cold when it is above 20 is your exposed face. Then a covid mask comes in real handy! In other words, most "cold" games are not as cold as they look on TV, while viewing at 70 degrees.

Kevin B said...

I'm going to the Rams game tonight. It'll be 60 degrees with a 40% chance of showers. Wish me luck!

Curt Alliaume said...

I've lived in Chicagoland since 2000, and I haven't been to a single NFL game during that time--mostly because Bears tickets are too expensive, even on the secondary market.

Before that, however, I lived and worked in New York, where I got freebie tickets all the time. (I worked in the publishing industry, and printers gave out tickets to sporting events frequently.) I used every baseball ticket I could get--even for Yankee games, which as a die-hard Mets fan, wasn't easy. But I had specific rules for football games:

1. No games after mid-November, unless they were playoff games. The weather was too unpredictable.
2. No 4 PM games (New York had plenty of these since they had two local teams that shared a stadium and couldn't play at the same time because of television, plus there were no Thursday or Sunday night games at that point). Fans would gather in the parking lot starting at 9 AM to tailgate; by 4 PM they were loaded and obnoxious.

Michael said...

I can top Dr. Enberg. The Ice Bowl in 1967, Dallas at Green Bay. Frank Gifford was doing color and, off the air, turned to the play-by-play man, Jack Buck, and said, "Can I have a bite of your coffee?" Buck replied, "Yeah, but it's vodka."

Unknown said...

Are you sure it was Jack Buck and not Ray Scott? Green Bay in '67, Scott called most of the Packers games on CBS.

sanford said...

I heard Kornheisers podcast this morning. I am not sure if he more upset with Appleby's or who ever they paid for the right to use the Cheers theme. And it is not like songs have been sold for television commercials. I would think Appleby paid a fair amount of money to use the song.

Mike Bloodworth said...

I agree with you, Ken. While Los Angeles doesn't have terrible weather (usually), tonight's RAMS game would be more entertaining if it was being played at the coliseum. A little rain, a little mud, a slippery ball, all add an element of unpredictability to the game. That's one of the things I dislike about SoFi stadium. Too sterile. And how could a city like L.A. NOT have a natural grass field? Even the Las Vegas RAIDERS have found a way to have grass indoors.

Speaking of the RAIDERS, back when they were still in town my friends and I went to a game against the BRONCOS. It was raining pretty hard that day. I had on my rain gear, but others didn't. They wound up wearing plastic garbage bags as raincoats. Don't remember if we won or not.

Speaking of Denver, Mile High Stadium has, or used to have heating elements under the yard markers. The entire field would be covered in snow except for the yard lines.


Off Topic: Did you know L.A. radio personality Michael Jackson? I remember when singer Michael Jackson died people put flowers on the other M.J.'s "Walk of Fame" star by mistake.

Did I say GO RAMS!!?


Randy @ WCG Comics said...

I live in Southern California now, but grew up in NYC. So during that era, football to us kids was all about bad weather, so when it snowed, we'd occasionally play football in deep snow or while it was snowing. With all the layers of clothing and the cushion of the snow restricting movement and running, we didn't have to wear any protective gear!

As kids, of course, snow is fun. This mindset carried over a little into my adult life--though I didn't learn to ski until I lived in California, one of my dreams was always to ski while it was snowing and got my wish years ago at Mammoth. Between the falling snow and fog, visibility was literally just a few feet at times, but it was great fun skiing through fresh knee-deep snow. We were there with a number of people sharing a rented house and only about half of went out, the rest deciding it was too cold and/or risky to go out. Some of my happiest memories!

Roger Owen Green said...

Ken - the obvious FQ. What do YOU think of the use of the Cheers theme for the Applebee commercial? Tony Kornheiser was indignant. Someone on his show compared it to using the Beatles' song Revolution to sell sneakers.

DJ said...

Are you sure it was Jack Buck and not Ray Scott? Green Bay in '67, Scott called most of the Packers games on CBS

According to Wikipedia, Scott called the first half, and Buck the second. Gifford was the color commentator; Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshire were the sideline reporters.

Douglas Trapasso said...

<<>> Admittedly off topic:

@sanford - I'm just afraid that we'll be seeing/hearing more questionable companies (TM) attaching themselves to iconic songs now that David Bowie, Neil Young, Springsteen, etc. have sold their children, I mean song rights, off to even more Questionable Companies.

I understand there are estate issues and there were many equally gifted talents from the generation behind them who were not fairly compensated and/or received poor financial advice. But has -any- star with Springsteen's catalog and pedigree simply said "No thank you" to one of these offers?

Eric J said...

The only live football game I've ever been to was in MA in a blinding snowstorm. I don't know who was playing anymore. I'm not sure any of the players were sure as I doubt they could see any better than I could.

If football was made for TV, baseball was made for email.

Lemuel said...

Didn't THE SIMPSONS do a winter football episode, or am I confusing it with the baseball show?

Jahn Ghalt said...

Good to know that Dick Enberg was not only unfailingly gracious - but also a POET

(iced coffee with no cubes - good one)

As for "the elements" recall that the various Minnesota teams have had climate-controlled venues financed mostly by non-fans. This had some undesirable side effects - career-ending knee injuries and ping-pong outfields (along with two 'Series wins).

When did the No-Fun-League go to seventeen games? "Pre-Season" doesn't wear so much on every-day players - so we may count only one extra game for starters on the eighteen non-playoff franchises. 4 (plus 6-7ths) playoff rounds adds up to 21 or 22 games for Super-Bowl teams - with 2 or 3 "off-weeks".

(for others it adds up to 18-21 games with 1 or 2 weeks off)

That's even less fun than it used to be.

"Las Vegas Raiders" - sure sounds strange - even more than "Los Angeles Chargers" - though "Washington Football Team" still takes the cake.

sanford said...

To Roger Owen Green

Nike did use Revolution to sell Nike shoes in 1987. However this was not the 3 remaining Beatles idea. They did sue and the case was settled but the details are still not known. Harrison thought it was a terrible idea. Yoko Ono had something to do with the deal as she did have some say in songs being used commercially. She thought it would be good to introduce the current generation at the time. I highly doubt any one even today does not know who the Beatles are. Here is what is considered the ten best uses of Beatles music in a movie. Number one was pretty obvious.

Dave Wrighteous said...

I was at the Eagles/Falcons NFC Championship game in January 2005. It was 17 degrees with winds over 20MPH. My Eagles won, but I barely recall anything because I was so cold I don't believe my brain was capable of creating memories.
I haven't been to a game since..I think I just thawed out last August.

iamr4man said...

Since the team I’ll be rooting for next week will be playing at Lambeau field on Saturday (night for godsakes!) I’m not feeling so good about watching from much warmer NorCal. Whatever slim chance we had against the anti-vax Pack will evaporate the way hot water turns to snow when thrown in the freezing cold.
When I saw those Applebees commercials I immediately wondered what you thought about them, so looking forward to you post tomorrow.

VincentP said...

Remember, the Los Angeles Chargers existed in 1960 -- the AFL's initial year -- sharing the Coliseum with the Rams, Dodgers, SC and UCLA football. (Hope the groundskeepers got overtime pay!)

This native Syracusan recalls the glory days of SU football at venerable Archbold Stadium (1907-1978), now the site of the Carrier Dome. Since the college season ended in late November, snow games at Archbold were relatively few -- but the cold made for great conditions for classic running backs like Jim Brown (I hate the G.O.A.T. term, which curiously is never applied to baseball, but he deserves it more than any quarterback), Ernie Davis (who led the Orange to the 1959 national title and became the first black Heisman Trophy winner two years later), Floyd Little and Larry Csonka. Rushing football -- that's real football!

And speaking of blackouts, I remember an episode of the short-lived CBS DJ sitcom "Good Morning World" (which featured a pre-"Laugh-In" Goldie Hawn in a supporting role just before I hit puberty and could lust after her), where the jocks wanted to see a blacked-out Rams game at the Coliseum and decided to drive up the Coast to watch it at a motel. (Sorry, folks, but I preferred the royal blue and gold Rams jerseys from earlier in the '60s.)

YEKIMI said...

You couldn't pay me to go to a football game [ could if it was equal to what a football player makes per game] even if it was a sunny 70 degree day. I have as much interest in the NFL as I do of getting kicked in the crotch by someone wearing spikes on the top of their shoes. I won't even waste my time watching a game on TV. Grew up in an area of Florida that had no football team till well after I had moved away so never learned or cared about it. Now the REAL football game [soccer]...I've actually sat through remnants of a hurricane to watch a game, sat through a near blizzard, PLAYED in a game when there was about 2 inches of snow on the ground [my feet were purple by the time the game ended], went to games that ended up being cancelled just before it was supposed to start because it rained so hard that the field couldn't drain fast enough and the water was over players ankles, sat through games were it was so cold that kicking the ball was more like kicking an anvil and by the time I got back to my seat with a hot chocolate in an insulated cup it was ice cold. And went to a game where it turned out to be the hottest day of the year [over 95 degrees but the field temp, because of astro-turf, was 120 degrees. I stood in a puddle of water to cool off my feet, shoes and all.
I think they showed some Browns games on TV even if it wasn't sold out. I believe they classified it as a horror show to get around the NFL rules.

Jahn Ghalt said...

(Cheers theme to sell Applebee's...) Tony Kornheiser was indignant. (Someone compared it to using "Revolution" to sell sneakers.)

Indignant! Whatever.

Hard to say who (as a class) is more self-righteous about the trivial - sports writers or sports fans - pick 'em. This time, however, it’s songwriters and how they make a living who garner the wrath from the peanut gallery.

Thinking back to my days-of-innocence.... "Anticipation" was the Hunt’s Ketchup Theme – to further misuse the term (in its current de-valued sense) the image of a close-up ketchup bottle with red blob falling out is “iconic”. Only later did I find out that Carly Simon wrote the song – and sold it use to HEINZ (not Hunt’s).

What’s the BIG (REALLY big) difference between the Cheers and Revolution? The number of zeros for the “rights”.

Matt Weiner, one of the best “apologists” for Mad Men, stated that the fee for Tomorrow Never Knows (Last Track, Side One, REVOLVER) was a cool quarter-million. And he only used about one minute of it.

stephen catron said...

Football in the snow. Nothing better.

Peter said...


Glad I am not the only one whose memories are violated when I have to listen to the Cheers theme being appended to Applebee's. Applebee's is the pinnacle of mediocrity, the height of average, bland, strip mall faux-personality, a generic so generic that it becomes specific in its genericness. It is soul-emptyingly bland, from its food to its decor to its corny, focus-grouped name (Applebee's? just who is or was Applebee? was it a restaurateur who lived in a gated subdivision with Bennigan and Houlihan and Friday and Fuddrucker?).

But Cheers--Cheers had verve, wit, specificity in its ensemble cast. And when the cast grew, with Frasier Crane and Lilith and Woody and Rebecca Howe, it didn't just plug a hole or slot in a sorta replacement but damn well added a new dimension to the whole group. And it was important to me. During its early run, I was in law school in DC, filled with stress from competing with truly brilliant people and lonely from living in a new, unfamiliar city. I had friends, amazing people, but they were being pummeled in law school as I was, and the topics came around to law again no matter how far afield they'd ventured.

I would come home from hours of poring over the books in the law library, my head simultaneously whirling and bursting with res ipsa loquitur and race notice and mens rea and res jusdicata and in re and a hundred other terms that included a "ray" syllable. And, I'd get off Pentagon City at the end of my ride on the Metro, with all its dead-eyed commuting bureaucrats and soldiers, and if I got home on time and the night happened to be the right one, I'd turn on my little TV, my first color model, and that opening theme would wash over me like a warm bath. Or maybe I'd be invited have dinner with odd, chronically out of work Jerry from my apartment building, who introduced me to Cheers, and we'd watch together. These characters were my fantasy friends, and I was privileged to spend a golden half hour with them; I wanted to walk into a bar where everybody knew *my* name.

So, my indignation is surely self-righteous, but it comes from seeing something trivialized that I loved and held in memory as part of a major turning point in my life. Yeah, it's just a stupid TV theme song, but it means something to me.

Peter said...

I don't know if two comments are allowed, but I forgot to mention that watching football in cold weather rocks. I am in Florida now, and if we're lucky and have a night game in November, we might get something approaching what would be a balmy day up North but that is downright frigid for us. I miss those snowy, biting times in the stands at Pitt games and games at my little college in western PA.

I've never been colder than when I was taken as a surprise to a Bears game at Soldier Field near Thanksgiving time. I borrowed every garment I could to supplement my wool overcoat, including a ladies' hat. I didn't care, because I knew--or thought I knew--how bad it was going to be. When finally returned to a warm apartment, I literally shook for an hour while trying to revive myself. How awesome. I wouldn't trade that experience--though I would happily relive it with some layers of fleece and down.

T Orlando said...

“How could you not, I loved the name "Fearsome Foursome" and the fact that they had a quarterback playing in the Coliseum named ‘Roman Gabriel’.“

For a brief second—when fourth-billed in a John Wayne western—he was the biggest Philippines-American film star. And earlier, a bit player in Skidoo, Groucho’s swan song— a movie with more Batman villains (4!) than many a Batman movie.

Matt said...

Am I wrong or was there a brief attempt to have a Cheers Resteraunt and Bar chain. I seem to remember one in an airport (Minneapolis?) where they had robot Norm and Cliffs.