It was winter 1967. We were still living in Florida. My mother was alive.
We drove to Sanford, Fla., from Cape Canaveral to pick up Mom, who’d ridden the train from Chicago. Reaching the station, we discovered the train was three hours late. What to do?
Figuring we might watch the game, we asked the manager of a nearby motel if we could use a room for three hours. The manager agreed, provided we didn’t sit on the bed or use the bathroom. Settling in, we turned on the black and white TV.
We never expected to see a classic — a game etched in history as the Ice Bowl.
It was bitterly cold in Green Bay, a decided contrast to Florida. The temperature at game time was -13 with a wind-chill approaching 50 below. We didn’t miss the weather, but we missed the bratwurst and beer.
As ex-Wisconsinites, we were Packer fans, a requirement in Wisconsin. Sure, there were the Miami Dolphins, a team begun the year before, but why would anyone cheer for a lousy team with stupid colors, aqua and orange, for heaven’s sake? Green and gold, that was where it was at.
So we watched the game, cautioning our young sons not to sit on the bed or use the bathroom.
Weather aside, the game was a nail-biter. With the Cowboys ahead 17-14, Green Bay took over on its own 32 with less than five minutes to play. Between snowy sidelines, quarterback Bart Starr, an Alabama boy, drove the team downfield. The drive misfired at Dallas’ one-yard line when two line plays gained little.
With 16 seconds left, third and goal on Dallas’ 2-foot line, Starr called time out. He trotted to the sidelines to talk about the next play with legendary coach Vince Lombardi.
After considerable discussion, Starr returned to the field, plunging ahead on a quarterback sneak. As Number 15 burrowed over the goal line behind a block by Jerry Kramer, referee Norm Schachter raised both arms in a photo for the ages.
Mom’s train came.
A couple weeks later, the Packers would win Super Bowl II, a funky promotion begun the year before.
Lombardi retired from the Packers after that season. He died three years later of cancer.
The Packers went downhill.
We became Dolphin fans.
Sunday the Packers and Cowboys will meet again at Lambeau Field for the first time in postseason since the Ice Bowl. Only the names have changed for the Packers: Starr, Kramer, McGee and Dowler have become Rodgers, Matthews, Cobb and Nelson.
For the record, the Cowboys’ quarterback is a small-town Wisconsin kid, Tony Romo from Burlington, who may not mind the cold.
After a snowy midweek with below-zero temperatures, and with people paid to shovel out Lambeau, Sunday’s high in Green Bay is expected to be a balmy 20.
Shirts-sleeve weather in Green Bay. Pass the bratwurst.