Relive the Legend – Stories from the 1967 Ice Bowl

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Some football games we forget – even the big ones. Do you remember who won Super Bowl XLIV five years ago?

But then there are football games that people still talk about decades later. The Ice Bowl is one of those legendary games.

Every time there’s a somewhat cold football game, people bring up the 1967 NFL Championship. Now that the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys are meeting for a playoff game at Lambeau for the first time since the Ice Bowl – even more stories are being told.

We decided to round up some of the best…


Even if you aren’t old enough to have gone to the Ice Bowl, you probably no someone who did.

My dad was 10 years old when he went to that frigid game with my grandparents. My brother and I got to attend the Falcons game on Monday Night with him this season. We were sitting in the same seats he sat in during the Ice Bowl – up in Section 128 Row 56.

He remembers the game ending and watching people rush down to the field to tear down the goal posts.

“You wanna go get a souvenir?” My grandpa asked him. But my dad was way too cold and understandably a little freaked out by all the pandemonium.

Still…what a memory.

As we all know, it was the coldest game in NFL history. I made it through the 5th coldest game, which happened to be Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer and ended in defeat at the hands of the NY Giants.

That’s a game I almost wish I could forget. But the folks who experienced the 1967 Ice Bowl have a memory they can talk about forever – even if thinking about it does cause psychosomatic hypothermia.

Here are some ways to help you relive the Ice Bowl. For those of us who weren’t born yet, it will paint a picture of everything that happened that day.

1. The Story of the Ice Bowl

This video we came across on YouTube is like taking a trip in a time machine.

What makes it cool is that it’s more than just football highlights. I especially love the footage of 1960s Green Bay at the beginning of the clip. And the music used in this piece makes you feel like you’re watching a Ken Burns documentary on the Green Bay Packers – which he should totally make.

For even more historic footage of the Ice Bowl, check out this video from NFL Films.

2. Packers Players Remember

If you think it was cold watching the Ice Bowl – just imagine playing in it. This was long before heated benches, Gore-tex underwear and even those hand-warmer things for crying out loud!

Ray Nitschke’s feet got so badly frostbitten that his toes turned purple and the toenails ended up falling off.

Of course, the victory made it just as memorable as the arctic weather.

In his book The Ice Bowl, sportswriter Mike Shropshire talks about just how memorable the game was to 1960s Packers. In the book’s Acknowledgments he writes…

“Last winter a Green Bay football player from the Vince Lombardi era told me (off the record), ‘Every couple of years I go back to a Packers’ reunion. A lot of those guys can’t even remember their ex-wive’s first name, but they could tell you what they had for breakfast on the morning of the Ice Bowl game.'”

Packers wide receiver Dave Robinson remembers that Vince Lombardi didn’t want anyone wearing gloves during them game, because he was afraid players would drop the ball.

In an Ice Bowl article from ABC News, Robinson explained how he convinced a trainer to help him out.

“He gave me a pair of brown gloves that they won’t notice. I had them on for running plays.”

Robinson would quickly take the gloves off when he knew it was going to be a passing play. He says Lombardi never caught him with the gloves.

Of course, the big hero of that game was Hall of Fame Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr – who scored the unforgettable winning touchdown.

Watch the CNN video below to hear an account of the Ice Bowl in Starr’s own words. Notice what a class act Bart Starr is – as always.

3. Memories from Packers Families

The Ice Bowl was a big deal for the wives and children of Packers players too.

Sportswriter Rob Demovsky covers the team for ESPN. He talked to Packers’ family members about what they recall about that day.

Bart Starr Jr. remembers being on the wrong side of the stadium when his dad cemented his football legacy and won the game.

Jerry Kramer’s former wife, Barbara, recalls going out to dinner with other players’ families just as they would after any other game. It seems no one realized what a big deal the Ice Bowl would become in sports history.

Here’s what Kramer’s ex-wife told Demovsky…

“It’s just shocking sometimes that it’s still so popular around town,” she said. “There’s pictures of it everywhere. I go into a restaurant, and I see a picture of it on the wall. Somebody once said, it must be odd that everywhere you go, you see your ex-husband’s picture.”

Read more of Demovsky’s story at ESPN.com.

4. The Team Historian’s Historic Account

Cliff Christl took over the role of Green Bay Packers team historian following the passing of Lee Remmel.

Christl was 20 when he went to the Ice Bowl. He still has his ticket stub to prove it. And apparently he has had to prove it, because Christl says some younger Packers fans don’t believe “old-timers” who say they were there.

“Today, those of us who sat through the Ice Bowl have become targets of another slight. Tell someone you went to the game and they want to give you a lie detector test.

It might be Green Bay’s longest standing joke: That if you say you were at the Ice Bowl you’re probably still under the influence of whatever kept you warm that day…

Twenty years ago, if you were from Green Bay, a Packers fan and between the ages of 40 and 85, you probably were at the Ice Bowl.”

Read Cliff Christl’s full story at Packers.com including a bunch of football facts surrounding the Ice Bowl.

5. Packers Fans Remember

My dad may not have stormed on to Lambeau Field to tear down the uprights with drunk and frozen fans, but the guy in the video below did – and he’s quite proud of himself too.

The Ice Bowl took place on New Year’s Eve. I can imagine 1968 started out pretty great in Green Bay.

At least my dad had the guts to actually go to the game. Another Packers fan is shaming his father with a Tumblr site called My Dad the Ice Bowl Chicken.

Turns out Jason Warner’s parents lied to him about why they were in possession of unused Ice Bowl tickets. Jason’s father told his son they didn’t go to the freezing-cold playoff game because they were concerned for the well-being of his mother – who was pregnant with Jason’s sister.

“As his eldest son, I thought the world of my father and hoped someday I would do something as caring and special for my own wife.”

But then Jason realized that dates weren’t lining up with the birth of his sister. Finally, his dad confessed and the horrible truth came out.

“Speaking of my mother, he said, ‘…she wanted to go, but I chickened out. I’m the one that folded.’ Holy Crap, the very story that I heard about for 37 years was untrue and he threw my mother under the bus doing it.  So, my entire belief system had been shattered at that very moment.”

Make sure you visit this Tumblr page and read the entire hilarious story.

5. The Dallas Cowboy Fans and Players

NFL-Cowboys-Ice-Bowl-ShirtsYou would think that Dallas fans would hesitate to look back at the game they lost. However, it seems they are just as excited about the “rematch” as we are.

Strangely – the Dallas Cowboys started marketing Ice Bowl II t-shirts almost as soon as the team beat the Detroit Lions in the first round.

Never mind the fact that this game won’t be nearly as cold. How stupid will those Cowboy’s fans feel wearing that shirt when the Packers beat them again?

The original Ice Bowl was such a big game that it made an impact on even the youngest Cowboys fans at the time. The blogger at TexansUnited.com remembers the now-famous and somewhat-disgusting incident involving Ice Bowl referee Norm Schachter and his whistle.

“To make you understand just how bad it was, understand that there was only one whistle blown the entire game. The reason? The first play of the game the ref blew the whistle. When he removed the whistle from his mouth, he also removed half of his mouth.”

Schacter refereed the rest of the game with frozen blood on his face.

That wasn’t the only gruesome injury of the Ice Bowl. Before he became an NFL head coach, Dan Reeves was a Cowboys’ runningback. And Reeves got a big taste of Frozen Tundra football.

A Fox Sports article from Sam Gardner looks back at some player memories. Dan Reeves remembers getting his facemask ripped off. Here’s what he says happened next.

“When I got up, my facemask was gone,” Reeves told FOX Sports. “So I took my hand and felt around to see if anything was wrong, but there wasn’t any blood and I knew I had to get my facemask fixed. So I went over to the sideline and when I got in front of the heater, blood just went everywhere. One of my teeth went through my upper lip, and yet it didn’t bleed — now, that’s cold.

“I can look in the mirror right now and I’ve still got a scar where my tooth went through my lip.”

6. The L.A. Ice Bowl Perspective

Almost everyone is writing about the Ice Bowl this week. LA Times sportswriter Bill Dwyre has a cool retrospective – although he does get a bit stereotypical when writing about Wisconsinites.

Dwyre must be exaggerating for effect when he says that “2.8 million people in Wisconsin, or roughly half the population of the state” will claim they were at the Ice Bowl.

Dwyre obviously believes Bud Selig’s Ice Bowl story – which the writer posted on Twitter.

Dwyre goes on to poke just a little bit of fun at Packers fans…

“It will be the hot topic of conversation at banks, bakeries and any place they sell bratwurst, which is about every restaurant.

You might as well have Paul Revere riding down Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee, proclaiming: ‘The Cowboys are coming! The Cowboys are coming!’

The very thought of Dallas at Green Bay on Sunday to play the Packers in an NFL playoff game — for the first time since New Year’s Eve 1967 — stirs memories in Wisconsin sports fans like nothing else. It is the kind of thing that warms the cockles of their hearts, except in Wisconsin, it does more than that. It melts the cheese on their heads.”

Despite Dwyer’s apparent belief that you can get a bratwurst at a Mexican restaurant in Green Bay, there are some great details on events surrounding the Ice Bowl in his story. Check out Dwyer’s complete LA Times column to read more.

7. The Story of the Game-Winning Play

The climax of the Ice Bowl is the play you’ll no doubt see over and over again leading up to this Sunday’s game.

With seconds left to go, the Packers were at the goal line. It was third down and Green Bay was behind by three points.

Bart Starr had been sacked eight times during the game, which was now in his hands. Tom Landry, the legendary coach on the other side of the field was most likely expecting a pass. But that’s not what happened.

On the sidelines, Starr convinced Coach Lombardi to let him try a quarterback sneak for the score. Lombardi replied as we might expect him to – “Run it, and let’s get the hell out of here!”

This is how Packers radio announcer Ted Moore called the play…

“Here are the Packers, third down, inches to go, to paydirt. 17-14, Cowboys out in front, Packers trying for the go-ahead score. Starr begins the count. Takes the snap…He’s going in for the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front! 20-17! And 13 seconds showing on the clock and the Green Bay Packers are going to be…World Champions, NFL Champions, for the third straight year!”

Sportswriter Ed Gruver authored a book called The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game. In it he explains why trying that play could be considered kind of stupid. And it would have been seen that way forever – if it didn’t work.

Gruver points out that with the clock winding down, a failed running play could be devastating. The Packers had already used their final timeout. An incomplete pass would stop the clock. So then the Packers could at least attempt a field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

Maybe Starr and Lombardi just wanted to “get the hell out.” Or maybe they knew that most brilliant ideas are seen as stupid at one point.

Whatever brought them to the decision – we’re still talking about that play today.

Watch the final drive in the video below. You can also listen to how Cowboys radio play-by-play announcer Bill Mercer called the last four minutes of the Ice Bowl.

Join the Green Bay Packers Free Pep Rally

This Saturday, January 10th, the Green Bay Packers will host a free pep rally ahead of the playoff game versus the Dallas Cowboys.

It will take place outside the Oneida Nation gate at 6PM. Lombardi-era packers including Dave Robinson, Jerry Kramer, Donny Anderson, Chuck Mercein and Boyd Dowler will be in attendance and will no doubt share some of their Ice Bowl memories.

Visit Packers.com for more information on the pep rally.

Finally – “It’s Cold” – Thank You Captain Obvious

Do You Have an Awesome Ice Bowl Story?

If you do – tell us about it. Leave us a comment below and let everyone know what you remember about the coldest game in NFL history!

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Comments

  1. My story isn’t awesome, but I can at least say I was there. I was 13 yrs. old, and a friend and I went at the very last minute when her dad was given 2 tickets. As a teen I didn’t dress as warmly as I should have, so by the 2 min. warning (when the temp was -18) I couldn’t take the cold anymore and joined dozens of other women in the restroom. We figured the game was over until we heard the stadium erupt in a frenzy. It was thrilling – even in the restroom and I’m still proud to say I was at the original Ice Bowl!!

  2. We just had our friend recount her experience at Christmas dinner. Man, I wish I could go to that pep rally! At least I don’t have to go to Chili’s on Sunday and I can watch in my own living room. (I have to haul my but down to Chili’s for all the games they don’t broadcast here in MD. Bleh.) Maybe I’ll invite some friends over. Or maybe I’ll save the party for the Superbowl…

  3. Carol Duda-Bishop says:

    A girlfriend and I drove from Milwaukee to GB just to “Party” got a room somewhere off of Velp Ave then went to the Lyric Lounge to party – don’t remember if we watched or listened to the game. Several Cowboy fans had the same idea.. one was drinking cans of beer out of his cowboy boot – on more than one occasion I poured 6 cans of beer into the boot – worst part was, he passed the boot around and we all drank from it!! Got back to the room and there was frost on the hinges on the inside of the room!! I will be watching the game on Sunday with quite a few “cheesehead” transplants in Crossville, TN (the Golf Capital of TN)
    where we etired to 17 years ago.

  4. Dann Dunham says:

    I remember the Ice Bowl like it was yesterday. I was fresh out of the U.S.C.G. Boot Camp and got my first Duty Station at the Sturgeon Bay Canal Station. Because I had the shiniest shoes and that boot hair cut, the Chief asked me if I would be part of the Color Guard during the game. Being from Wisconsin my whole like I thought, no big deal as far as the weather was concerned. When it came time to line up though, a man came over and told us we had to remove our over coats and gloves before taking the field because Mr. Lombardi’s Team wasn’t wearing any. That changed things a bit until the Marine in the group started removing his coat and the rest of us followed. As we marched out onto the field it was windy and getting colder with every step we took. So cold that the little leather tab that held the National Ensign I was marching with broke and I automatically wrapped the Flag around my hands like an old time hand muffler so it wouldn’t touch the ground. When we left the field, the Marine came over and very sternly explained that if my Flag had hit the ground he would have had me for lunch. I just looked at this very tall Sargent and replied that I would have never let that happen and besides, I had the warmest hands of all of us. After the game each one of us were given the very rare pleasure to talk to Mr. Lombardi on a one-on-one basis and ask him what ever we wanted due to what he had put us through. I have carried his words with me my whole life. The other members of the Color Guard all asked him about the game but I wanted to know his Famous Theory of Success and to my amazement, he explained it to me and made sure at each important part, that I understood what he was saying. I have never forgotten his words or that day at Lambeau field.

  5. Watched the video from story #1 and just about fell out of my chair. The guy taking a swig of Jim Beam at 50 seconds into the video is my dad. At 55 seconds there’s a glimpse of a guy holding a saxophone. That guy is Tom De Bruin he played sax in the Packers band and was best friends with my dad, Don Reynebeau. This really made our day since both of them are deceased . Thank you

  6. My wife and I were sitting in sec 34 row 26 seats 14 and 15 She made a thermos of hot chocolate. The cap sealed from the cold and we couldn’t open it. I remember the play that Bart scored on. As they broke the huddle Chuck Mercien made the sign of the cross. He thought he was going to get the ball. I guess he was praying that he would score a touch down. After the game while walking to the car I thought my feet were going to fall off it was so cold. I remember some cars wouldn’t start but luckily ours did. The next day the temperature was about 20 degrees warmer just a normal mid winter day.

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