SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
As Tom just said, Sunday's face-off between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys is being billed as the second Ice Bowl. The first was played in Green Bay nearly 50 years ago. While the temperatures won't be quite as brutal tomorrow, the NFC playoff stakes are certainly just as high. Patty Murray of Wisconsin Public Radio reports.
PATTY MURRAY, BYLINE: These teams have played each other often since that cold December 31 in 1967. But this is the first time they'll meet for this playoff at Lambeau Field since then. The temperature that day was -15. While it'll be cold in Green Bay this Sunday, it won't be that cold.
MARK MURPHY: I feel fine except for my face.
MURRAY: On Wednesday, Packers CEO Mark Murphy kicked-off a campaign to paint the town green and gold. Those are the team colors. He spray-painted slogans on a downtown street. Murphy is hesitant to consider this the second coming of the Ice Bowl.
MURPHY: Our field is heated, so we should never have a frozen tundra. I've always been very impressed with the way our players, and players generally, have been able to perform in all kinds of weather. You think back in '67, you know they didn't have so many of the advantages that we have now, in terms of keeping people warm and being able to play in the conditions.
MURRAY: In that game, with only seconds to go, quarterback Bart Starr ran into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. It's something John Hess will never forget. He's a long-time season ticketholder, and will be in the same seat this weekend as he was in 1967. He's even embroidered the seat number on his hat.
JOHN HESS: Our seat is in section 116, row seven, seat 23, as I read my hat.
MURRAY: Hess will be sitting next to Mel McCartney, who was also with him that day. McCartney remembers the cold and thinks this weekend's temperatures in the teens will feel downright balmy.
MEL MCCARTNEY: One of the key things is the ball freezes at 15 below. I mean, the ball will be cold here, and hard. But that ball gets like a rock when it's 15 below.
MURRAY: The Ice Bowl is the NFL's equivalent of Woodstock. McCartney says if everyone who says they were there actually was there, Lambeau Field would've had to have been a lot bigger.
MCCARTNEY: Instead of 53,000, it'd have to have been 530,000. I mean, people (laughter) wanted to be there and were there in spirit, but they forgot they really weren't there.
WES HODKIEWICZ: I think there's only always going to be one Ice Bowl.
MURRAY: Wes Hodkiewicz reports on the Packers for the Green Bay Press Gazette.
HODKIEWICZ: I think the conditions that were involved with it, it's not going to be that cold. But at the same time, this is very meaningful for people in Green Bay because there is that history there with Dallas. And in the '90s when the Packers were kind of coming back after two decades of really struggling, Dallas was the team that kept getting in the way of them making that run back to the Super Bowl.
MURRAY: Hodkiewicz says the epic cold and that last-second play against Dallas helped the Green Bay Packers cement a place in history.
HODKIEWICZ: The Dallas defensive line - I think it was the Doomsday Defense - they were known for being able to stop teams in short yardage situations. For it to not only be that scene and that, you know, environment, but to come down to a significant play like that - a last-second play - that just doesn't happen a lot. That's magic.
MURRAY: Packer fans hope to repeat that magic tomorrow.
For NPR News I'm Patty Murray in Green Bay.
SIMON: You can see the frozen faces of fans at that first Ice Bowl in Green Bay nearly 50 years ago - I was there, wasn't I? I'm almost certain I was there - on our Facebook page, NPR's WEEKEND EDITION. And while you're at it, we're on Twitter too, @nprweekend. I'm @nprscottsimon, all one handle.
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