Two quick points before I get going with this:
1. I read an interesting article on Fast Company the other day about why things go viral; I’ve talked about this too, in the past. In short form — I didn’t want to write a whole post about this — the reason things go viral is emotions, i.e. the content conjures up emotions in the viewer. This makes sense, since emotions themselves are basically the definition of viral — go into a room of sad people (i.e. a funeral) and you’re sad; go into a room of happy people (i.e. a college bar during a big game your team is winning) and you’re happy (and drunk). Emotions move virally, so they also direct viral content. That’s why the whole “football games in the snow/cold” thing makes sense to me. Most of America (percentage-wise) grows up in an area where there’s snow on the ground during the holidays, and family football might be a thing. And even if you’re from AZ, CA, NV, or FL … chances are you have relatives in those states with the white stuff. Emotionally, then, seeing snow-bound football is visually beautiful — and it probably connects you back to a simpler time. That clip above is Lions-Eagles from this season; ’twas the first really snow-bound game of the year. My Facebook/Twitter/et al blew up with people talking about how great it was. That wasn’t simply because it was snowing. Everyone’s seen snow before. It was because of a connection.
2. The whole NFL blackout idea is ludicrous, though. I understand the NFL is a money-making behemoth of an organization that basically replaced (or slid into next to) religion as the focus of Sundays in this country, but … it’s insane to not let people see a game on TV simply because they don’t want to sit outside in negative temperatures for four hours. If you’re playing in that game, it’s a lot different than if you’re sitting around watching that game. Roger Goodell and company have to know that. You can call the participants warriors as much as you want; the fans aren’t necessarily supposed to be. That rule is stupid. What you should do, actually, is let bars jump the blackout (I think most bars can, if they have a package) and drive up the local economy instead of the impression that the stadium is full. NFL on FOX has been doing this for over a decade. You think they don’t have the shooters and directors on their A-Team to make a stadium look full when it’s 4/7 full? They do. If you’re worried about the visuals and how that will play to those watching at home, that’s not a concern. If you’re worried about making money, being the only major thing on TV at 4pm on a Sunday is going to be just fine in terms of making money.
Alright, so let’s talk about tomorrow. Chargers-Bengals will be played in the low 30s degree-wise, but there’s probably about an inch of snow coming down every hour during the game. It’s gonna be a sloppy, white, beautiful mess. Packers-49ers? That’s a whole different ballgame. It’s going to be around -5. That literally adjusts everything about strategy and even how the game is called. Unless it’s a really crucial play down the stretch, you think the refs want to waste 8-10 real-time minutes on a challenge situation? No. Those things get resolved quicker in these types of games.
Is 49ers-Packers going to be the coldest game ever? Probably not. It may be close, but there are some other gems. These are the 10 coldest via NFL.com — six of the 10 are playoff games, which is logical considering when the NFL playoffs take place. The notable one that’s always mentioned, of course, is the Ice Bowl. With wind chill, it was about -48 degrees out there.
The modern-day equivalent is the Packers-Giants NFC Championship Game from a few years ago (the year the Giants ended the Patriots’ perfect season quest in the Super Bowl). With wind chill, it was about -24 at Lambeau that day.
Ironically, one of the coldest games in NFL history was Chargers-Bengals — the 1982 version, also known as The Freezer Bowl.
And another current playoff matchup — Colts/Chiefs, which this time is in a dome — was brutally cold in the 1996 playoffs edition (where, also oddly, Jim Harbaugh was one of the starting QBs).
The Pats-Titans game in the 2004 playoffs was fairly brutal:
As was “Red Right 88” in the 1981 playoffs:
And here’s the 1948 NFL Championship — Philly/Chicago — which was quite literally in a driving snowstorm:
Tomorrow should be more of the same (both snow and cold) across the two games. It’ll be fun to watch — just make sure you’re not necessarily there. And while this last clip isn’t football, if you want to see the true beauty and glory of a sport being played in the snow, look no further than the 2014 Winter Classic.