Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice Bowl Referee

One of the most famous NFL championship games ever played took place in Green Bay, Wisconsin on New Year’s Eve 1967. The night before, when the Dallas Cowboys settled into their hotel rooms, a Dallas player named Lance Rentzel, called the Green Bay weather bureau and learned that it was 15 degrees with a 10 mph wind from the north.  When he awoke the next morning, he called the weather bureau again and learned that it was 15 degrees below zero with a 20 mph wind from the north.  Playing on Lambeau Field that day was a nightmare. Television commentator Frank Gifford made the first memorable comment of the day when he told the national television audience, “I just took a bite out of my coffee.”  That game made a legend out of Packer’s right guard, Jerry Kramer, because he threw a crushing block on Cowboy’s defensive tackle Jethro Pugh to enable the Packers’ quarterback, Bart Starr, to sneak into the end zone on the last play of the game.  I’ve read many accounts of that game, but learned something new about it just a few days ago. Immediately after the opening kickoff, one of the referees attempted to blow his whistle.  He found that, in order to remove it from his mouth, he was going to lose a piece of his lip.  For the rest of the game the officiating crew dare not blow their whistles.  Instead, they had to yell, “He’s down” or call the penalty verbally.

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