NEW YORK CITY––From players to fans, no one connected to the Green Bay Packers probably has much patience for talk of cold-weather Super Bowl this week in New York City, not on a day when the high temperature in Titletown isn't getting above zero and the wind chill could dip as low as minus-50 on Monday evening.
Not that the weather predicted for Sunday's big game will be warm by any means, but compared to what's been experienced on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field, life at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday should fall somewhere between tolerable and comfortable with a high of 38 degrees, a low of 23 and winds around eight miles per hour, according to The Weather Channel.
Former Packers linebacker Paris Lenon, at 36 years old and playing in his first Super Bowl as a current member of the Denver Broncos, isn't going to be phased by whatever Mother Nature has in store for Sunday, not after facing brutally cold conditions back in Wisconsin.
“My first year in Green Bay, we played Minnesota on Sunday night," said Lenon. "I forgot what the temperature was with the wind chill. It was like minus-30 (degrees), something like that.”
The frigid weather was an inescapable topic of discussion as both teams arrived in the Big Apple on Sunday, a week ahead of the game, the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a Northern climate.
For a 16-year veteran like Peyton Manning, who's encountered almost everything professional football has to offer and playing in the Rocky Mountains the past two years as the quarterback of the Broncos, he's no stranger to cold weather.
As far as Manning is concerned, it's as much about overcoming adversity in general as it is about the weather.
Referencing the neck injury that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, Manning said, "Anytime coming off an injury like I had, the more situations you can face––weather, two-minute drills, third-and-ones, fourth-and-ones––I needed to face different circumstances with my new surroundings and with my new physical state. In my two years, I think we have seen a lot as far as on-the-field situations––weather, crowd noise, you name it––with this team. So, I do feel comfortable.”
Whether the Broncos will practice outside in the elements in the run-up to the Super Bowl this week hasn't yet been decided.
Being the AFC representative in the Super Bowl, the Broncos will practice at the New York Jets' Training Center this week, while the Seahawks will make use of the facilities of the New York Giants.
According to head coach John Fox, the Broncos have brought their grounds crew from Denver to inspect and test the grass field outside before they make any decisions about whether to stay outdoors or go indoors on the synthetic surface.
Previously being the defensive coordinator of the Giants from 1997 to 2001, Fox has an idea of what to expect from a weather-related standpoint on Sunday.
"Obviously the elements are something that’s a part of strategy," said Fox. "First of all, I spent five years with the Giants, so I understand the weather even though the weather has changed a little bit. I think in order to be a championship football team we’ve got to be weatherproof, and I think our football team played in all different elements this year. I feel comfortable with where we’re at as far as the elements, but it’s a part of the game. I think tradition-wise, it’s been a part of the league and a part of a lot of championships.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is taking the same stance, waiting to see the state of the Giants' practice field before making any decisions. But he's also prepared for the potential for practicing indoors all week, knowing that the outside field is snow-covered and the surface is at least somewhat frozen.
It seemed to be a common theme that the coldest game experienced by several of the players in the Super Bowl just so happened to be in Green Bay.
“Yeah, we played up in Green Bay, I think in 2009, a late December game I think," said Seahawks center Max Unger, who actually grew up in sunny Hawaii. "It was in probably the teens, so I’m not sure what the weather forecast is, but I can do something like that.”
The last game played in Green Bay, the Packers' loss to the 49ers in the wildcard round of the playoffs on Jan. 5, was played in a temperature of five degrees at kickoff with a wind chill of minus-10, which only added to the legend of cold-environment games at Lambeau Field that include the iconic Ice Bowl in 1967 and the Snow Bowl in 1985.
Despite the chilly weather, many macho players do little different to keep warm, such as Lenon, who shared his plans for Sunday.
“I wear a thermal sleeveless shirt," said Lenon. "I don’t wear any sleeves. I always wear gloves. I just have mittens underneath. That’s one trick. Wear mittens underneath, you put those on and then you put your football gloves on top of those. You might have to get a half size bigger (gloves).”
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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