Gotta Love a New Year!

Written by on January 1, 2018


On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS January 1, 2018, #673 – Gotta Love a New Year!
After further review…Always loved a new year with new hopes, dreams, and challenges. However, before we move on from December 31st, allow me to reflect on the significance that date will always hold for me.
The Ice Bowl! Yes, fifty years ago yesterday I was in Green Bay, Wisconsin as part of the NFL officiating crew to work the Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers NFL  Championship game. I didn’t expect to be there. For that 1967 season the NFL moved my position from field judge to referee, with no expectations of a playoff assignment. The phone call came on Tuesday of that week to “be in Green Bay by Saturday, December 30 as the alternate referee.” It was clear weather in Green bay when referee Norm Schachter, the rest of the crew, and I arrived at Austin Straubel International Airport, with the evening producing a beautifully bright moon.
Sunday morning, December 31st was a different story as the weather had dropped rapidly to freezing, and with me carrying California blood. Our entire crew was unprepared. Early the morning of the game, the entire crew knocked on the door of a locked Army-Navy store, whose owner was inside doing end-of-the-year inventory. Buying all the long-johns, mittens (no Gore Tex yet), and ear muffs, we packed up and headed for Lambeau Field to what has become the NFL’s most historic game – The Ice Bowl! The weather reportedly was 15-20 degrees below with wind chill of minus 35 degrees. My toes, nose and fingers are still cold just thinking about it!!
Sunday morning, December 31, 1988, the Fog Bowl was another historic game. This time between the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, which sits adjacent to Lake Michigan. With the Windy City weather cold, but reasonable, the first half of this NFC Divisional game moved along without incident. As we walked onto the field to start the second half, the field was thick with fog – the goal posts at each end of the field barely visible. Do we play, delay or even postpone? As referee it was my decision to make. However, considering that none of us, individually, is as strong as all of us, I consulted with the NFL’s representative, Vice President Don Weiss; and then, of course, the two head coaches –  Buddy Ryan of the Eagles and Mike Ditka of the Bears. All were in agreement that we should play, and we did.
Final scores in these two games become less significant after all these years, unless your T*E*A*M lost. What was significant was the question: do we continue to play with weather conditions of this nature? In football, rightly or wrongly, we play!
Will you log-in your remembrances of either of these two games?
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