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EIB WEB PAGE DISGRONIFIER

Cold Weather is Least of the NFL's Problems

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  The Green Bay Packers have announced a sellout.  A couple of TV stations in Milwaukee and Green Bay, Fox affiliates, have the game. They picked up the remaining tickets along with some fans.  So the game will be televised in the Green Bay and the outer-market area instead of being blacked out.  The forecast for this game, the weather forecast has been all over the board.  Dr. Roy Spencer, our official climatologist here, University of Alabama at Huntsville, is looking at various weather models.

They do have weather models for things other than hurricanes, by the way, and he is saying it could be minus eight at game time.  Game time is 3:40 local time, Central Time, on Sunday afternoon.  Minus eight.  The forecast high for Green Bay on Sunday is in the minus zero ranges, it's not even gonna be above zero.  Now, the Ice Bowl... Remember the Ice Bowl, the Cowboys and the Packers?  New Year's Eve, 1967.  Minus 14. 

Do you know what the second coldest NFL game?  It was in '82, I think.  Might be 1980.  It was the San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati, Riverfront Stadium, minus 13 degrees, plus the wind chill.  Dr. Spencer says there's a gigantic arctic air mass of cold air, and on Monday in Green Bay is gonna be even colder than it is on Sunday and Dr. Spencer says if that air mass moves down even faster than it's forecast, then you could be in the minus 10 to 14 range game time Sunday afternoon. 

Snerdley says, "How do these players brace themselves?"

Well, for one thing, they're all professionals.  That's number one.  They're paid to be out there.  But even if you're a casual fan, you'll notice that there is a macho aspect that a lot of these guys go out there sleeveless, and so people and asked me, "Rush, are they wearing thermal underwear under the jersey, at least, cut off at the sleeves?" In some cases, it's just a T-shirt, folks.  Now, the quarterback's arm has stay warm.

The quarterbacks are decked out, and some of the receivers wear sleeves but there's a macho tendency to go out there sleeveless, and you will see that on Sunday.  Now, for the guys playing the game, the actual 22 guys on the room, it isn't cold.  The adrenaline and all that. They're running around. It isn't as cold to them as it is when they get to the bench.  You'll see the steam come off their heads sweating.  They sweating. 

There will be sweat.  Players will sweat during that weather.  But remember the Giants played a playoff game in Green Bay, and the wind chill was minus 20.  I don't know what the actual temperature was. It wasn't anywhere near a record, but it was around zero, and the Giants just pummeled Favre.  The game went into overtime, and Eli Manning said it was his favorite game of all time. It was his favorite game. He loved it, that night game. 

There was chicken soup on the sideline that they had to keep heated so it wouldn't freeze.  This is what they used to do. It was broth to help keep the players warm.  But it's brutal.  There's no question.  The hits hurt more and the ground is hard in Green Bay. The ball feels like a rock.  There's not much they can do to keep the ball warm.  The field in Green Bay is heated, and it could slightly turn mushy if it melts too much.

The heat under the field was installed by Lombardi.  I don't know if they still use it, actually, but I know it was there at one time, and they may still use it.  Three of the outdoor games are gonna be very cold, but none as cold as what's gonna happen in Green Bay, and that's the last game on Sunday.  Do we have...? Yeah, let's go to sound bite eight.  This is the CNN this morning on their newsroom show, the anchorette, Fredricka Whitfield.

She spoke with the Packers Radio Network anchor Jay Sorgi about the possibility of the game being blacked out.  No, it hasn't been blacked out.  They have sold it out ahead of the deadline.  So this interview took place before it was sold out, while the blackout was still possible, and Fredericka Whitfield said, "Look, Sunday's game could be the coldest ever for an NFL game, which is probably in large part why people are not buying those tickets.  Quite the quandary now.  What are fans to do, Jay?"

SORGI:  They're now down to less than a thousand tickets that are still unsold for this game, so they still have six hours to sell that fewer than a thousand tickets.  I believe they'll probably get it done without much of an issue, but there are many people who normally would be willing to go to a football game. But when you tell them that the wind chills may be 20, 30 below -- the temperature should reside around zero, potentially lower -- they're not as willing to sit for four hours outside and in many the cases drive two to three hours --

WHITFIELD:  Oh, my gosh.

SORGI:  -- from the Milwaukee area to attend a game.

RUSH:  Come on.  This is Green Bay.  People do this all the time in Green Bay.  That's what has been remarkable here about having so much time go by to sell this game out.  Packer fans live for this. This is Packer weather.  This is the kind of weather that they think gives them an advantage.  People are prepared for this.  They live in this in Green Bay.  It's not a big deal to go to Lambeau Field in this kind of weather.

Now, there's something else going on here, folks.  There's something else going on.  Three of these four playoff games were not sold out.  Well, the Colts have sold out and the Packers have, but it took a long time, and I think Cincinnati is still the lone holdout.  I don't know if they're gonna sell out or not.  They probably will.  I can't imagine a league actually permitting a playoff game to be blacked out. 

There's just something... But look how long it's taken.  This is new territory for the NFL.  This is not something that they are accustomed to.  I mean, here's this guy, Jay Sorgi. I don't believe Packer fans are getting soft.  I don't think that's it. The weather is not why it took so long to sell this game out.  They're not soft.  There's no backs on the seats for most of them.  There's a bench.  There's something else going on here.

Look, we just had Christmas.  Credit cards are maxed out.  The Packers were not expected to make the playoffs.  People in the Packers market area figured they were out of it and they spent money elsewhere.  So it was a challenge to sell the game out.  Now, we move on.  Last night CNN, Situation Room, fill-in host Jim Acosta speaking with the author Steve Fainaru, who has a book called League of Denial.  This is about concussions in the NFL. 

The host of the show, Jim Acosta, said, "With all these bowl games that are on TV right now and the playoffs that are coming up this weekend, and they're gonna be going for several weeks, the question I have is: Do fans care about this anymore?  Because won't the business side of this sort of drive the NFL to make these things, and if fans get upset about this, I just wonder if that might be a way to get the NFL to really solve this problem and for these players, and this is basic a question about concussions and the violence and the game."

Here's the answer...

FAINARU:  I do feel like there's sort of a disconnect in which, you know, the playoffs are upon us now. I myself am watching many hours of football every weekend --

ACOSTA:  People cheer on those big hits. 

FAINARU:  -- and people are cheering on the big hits, and violence is a big part of the game, and so I think the NFL is kind of walking sort of a tightrope right now where they know that violence and brutality is part of the appeal of football, certainly, and yet they're trying to tell people that the game is safer, and how do you balance that?

RUSH:  Right.  So how can we cheer playoff violence?  This is the dilemma the NFL has.  How can you promote cheering and supporting the violence and the brutality that is the NFL? Mark my words: This is only the beginning.  I want to remind you, Bob Ryan, who is one of the most renowned and decorated sportswriters in the country, the Boston Globe, wrote a piece toward the end of last year apologizing for his role in making the NFL popular, apologizing for his role in making popular a game that maims people for life. 

This was not some young journalist out in the hinterlands trying to get noticed.  This is one of the deans, one of the guys been around a long time that a lot of people respect and look up to, apologizing for his role in popularizing a game of such brutality that maims people.  So now: How can the NFL actually on the one hand claim a safer game and then want to encourage people to cheer for the violence taking place in the game? It's a fascinating case study, because the media, which needs this game -- the media, which feeds off this game -- is leading the charge in what could be fundamental changes in this game to make it something it's never been before. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  You know, folks, just speaking for myself, I don't know how the NFL can allow these players to play in these conditions.  I mean, they delayed games because of rain earlier in the year.  They delayed games because of lightning.  I want to know: Does the NFL think so little of the players that they'll subject them to these conditions?  What about the players union?  They're just a dime a dozen?  They are just meat? You know, they're just to be used? They're chewed up, spit out, and get the next guy in? 

How can they permit it? 

It's inhumane treatment. 

Nobody should be subjected to this. 

It's too cold.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  You know, Mr. Snerdley asked me a question, and I didn't give it the just due that it deserved. It was a question about the Packers and Fort'iners game on Sunday in Green Bay.  He asked me how the players deal with this, and there's an answer to this.  My brief answer to him was they're professionals and they're paid, and all of that's true.  I think... This is not foreign to people that play football.  They are prepared for this.  They train for this. 

Now, there have been arguments back and forth. Some coaches say, "I'm gonna practice every day outside, get my team used to it." Other people say, "There's no getting used to it.  Practice inside, learn the plays, practice execution, get your game plan down, and don't worry about distractions of weather.  When the game comes, go out do it." Other coaches say, "I'm gonna train in this stuff, get my players ready for it."

The bottom line is that people haven't played the game. This is true of any business: If you haven't done it -- and we're talking about at the pinnacle now. These are the best in the business. These are highest paid. These are the best at what they do.  This is something that they are mentally prepared for.  There is an ability to ignore the cold, there's an ability to ignore the heat.

When these guys are going through two-a-days in August when it's a hundred degrees and the humidity is high, they play in the extremes, ones that don't play in domes.  But it's all about the mind. It's all about mental preparation.  I've heard Bart Starr asked about that game. "Bart, how did you hold onto the ball?" His facial expression was, "What do you mean, how do I hold onto the ball?  I'm the quarterback! It's my job to hold onto the ball."

"Yeah, but wasn't it hard as a rock?"

He didn't understand the question. It's just THE BALL.  "Yeah, I hold onto the ball.  I'm the quarterback.  You deal with the conditions as they are."  He said, "You just have to. It's a mental thing.  You just tune out the distractions; you tune out the discomfort -- and when the game is underway, believe me, the adrenaline is flowing, and the focus is on winning; there's a championship at stake here." Football's always been a game played outside, in the elements, on grass. 

That was always the history and tradition of the game, until the domes came along, and those are basic fan comfort as much as anything else.  But this is all part of being a professional.  This is what they do.  They're trained for it.  Now, every game and every day is a different day, and whichever team is better able to handle this, whichever team is better equipped to deal with it, better prepared, better focused, you never know until the game is played and it unfolds. 

The conventional wisdom is: "The 49ers are coming from the West Coast, and don't ever have weather like this. They don't have a prayer." Nothing could be further from the truth.  Warm-weather teams have gone into cold-weather sites and won often in the NFL.  It happens.  This is a game of mental toughness as well as physical toughness, and I just repeat the story Leigh Steinberg told me once when I was with him in Houston at a game in the old Astrodome. 

In fact, it was the 49ers-Houston Oilers.  He just said to me casually after watching a particular, "You know, these guys are so tough.  You and I wouldn't last one play out there."  I had never thought about it that way. I just thought, "I'm not good enough to play," but he's right.  The average person wouldn't last one play in the NFL, regardless. In 70-degree weather, we wouldn't last in one play, simply because of how tough and how hard the game is.  That's why all this talk about legislating the toughness out of it, the hard hits? You can't do it and still have football. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: You know, talk about football games, the Packers and the Fort'iners. If you're really concerned about the conditions being an advantage or disadvantage to certain team, the real team with the real challenge this weekend's New Orleans.  New Orleans is going into Philadelphia.  The Saints just do not win on the road.  They play in the Dome, but they just have a tough time.  You could look it up.  They have a tough time on the road, wherever they go. 

When you start adding cold weather to it, it gets even tougher.  This has been documented for them.  They lose in Seattle.  Remember two years ago the Saints, I think, were 11-5?  The Seahawks were 7-9 but made the playoffs, won the division at 7-9. So they got a home game.  The 11-5 Saints go out there and lose, 'cause nobody wins in Seattle because that stadium is constructed in such a way as to shield people. It's not a dome, but there's a roof, essentially, over the upper deck, so that the fans stay dry in the rains of Seattle. 

That keeps the noise in.  It's at noisiest stadium in the league, and nobody -- only one team has won in Seattle, only one road team the last two years, and that's the Arizona Cardinals just last month.  So the Saints have the biggest challenge going into Philadelphia, playing a road game in the elements.  It's gonna be cold.  I don't think there's any snow or rain forecast, but get this.  Let's go to Sal Paolantonio this afternoon on SportsCenter on ESPN.

PAOLANTONIO:  Ice and snow and Eagles fans don't exactly mix, so it's a security issue as well as a safety issue.  The Philadelphia Police Department also tells me that what they are doing is adding extra undercover police officers dressed in New Orleans Saints gear.  Why?  Because when the Detroit Lions came here and lost in the snow, a Lions fan wearing a Barry Sanders jersey was attacked outside Lincoln Financial Field and beat up, and they want to crack down on that.  They're putting the word out now that undercover detectives will be in Saints garb looking for hooligans who decide to act up.

RUSH:  So the latest NFL controversy is undercover cops making sure that Philadelphia fans don't beat up Saints fans, if there are any.  Just don't engage in general mayhem and the undercover cops are gonna be wearing Saints garb to attract the hooligans in Philadelphia, attacking them.  You know, it borders on... This is the place, the former governor of Pennsylvania was a season ticket holder at the Iggles over at The Vet and he used to throw snowballs from the upper deck, Ed Rendell. 

This is the place Santa Claus got booed.  Yeah, in Philadelphia. They've got a courtroom in stadium.  Or they did.  I don't think if they do at The Linc, but at The Vet they had a courtroom in the stadium to handle misdemeanors that took place and mini-felonies that took place while the game was going on, and so the Saints are going into a very, very raucous environment there where they don't do well on the road anyway. 

If there's one team with a disadvantage being on the road, you might think it's the Fort'iners going into Green Bay.  It's actually the Saints going into Philadelphia.  Since we're talking about the NFL, Chris Kluwe, the punter for the Minnesota Vikings (the ex-punter) has really stirred it up now.  He got going on gay marriage and became one of the biggest advocates for it, and he's now claiming he was cut by the Vikings because of it.

He claims that the head coach and the general manager were cowards and that his special teams coach was a bigot.  The special teams coach has denied the charge that he is anti-gay and the anti-gay things that Kluwe said that he said.  So this is a major brouhaha that has erupted, and we must have audio sound bites on this.  This is Kluwe. He was on ESPN Radio talking about the article he wrote was for DeadSpin.com.  Here's Kluwe explaining why he was cut by the Vikings.

KLUWE:  What is the logical conclusion that I can draw from this?  Because my numbers haven't changed.  They were on my career average, which has been best in Vikings history, and which got me a very nice contract with the Vikings, which I had one year left, and the only thing that changed from the year before to when I got cut was I had started speaking out openly about same-sex rights.

RUSH:  Yeah, but it's really what he wrote here.  I read his Deadspin piece, and he says that had you a special teams coach. I can't remember the guy's name right now. He said the special teams coach told him that he was gonna burn in hell with the gays and making fun of gays and that the head coach tried to get him to shut up. Don't talk about it. Lie under the radar. Don't mention the stuff. Stay silent.

He says the general manager, Rick Spielman, said the same thing.  Kluwe refused, and he kept talking about it, and he decided to write this piece after the season so as not to be a distraction for the Vikings during the season.  But he's made some serious charges against these guys, and at least the position coach, the special teams coach is out there denying it with a pretty long statement today.  Kluwe now thinks there's no way he's ever gonna play in the NFL again because of this.

He thinks of himself as an equal-rights spearhead.  I mean, he's out there leading the charge for human equality, dignity, and all of this.  He thinks that that's why he got fired. (interruption) It's Mike Priefer.  Mike Priefer is the special teams coach for the Vikings that Kluwe claims is a bigot, an anti-gay bigot, with quotes of what the guy said to him.  Coach has denied it, and now there's an investigation.  The Vikings are investigating, the NFL is investigating. There's all kinds of investigation.  Kluwe thinks now that his NFL career is over.

KLUWE:  I'm pretty sure.  (laughing)  Can't really write a piece like that and then expect a -- a lot of teams to come calling.  You know, that's one of the realities of the NFL.

RUSH:  He believes that gay marriage should be legal under the concept of human equality, that homosexuals denied the right to marry are being denied equality, and that is his impetus.  That's the main thrust of his argument that he's making here, and he's been very outspoken about it for a number of years, but the piece that he wrote in Deadspin names and quotes people, and if they did say what he's quoted them as saying, it's pretty bad stuff. 

But they're all denying it. 

Well, at least the special teams, the position coach is a fevered denial.  But I guess for Kluwe this is Selma, the equivalent of the march in Selma. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This Chris Kluwe thing, folks, there's lesson here.  If you think you are about to lose your job, you immediately become an advocate for a very far left-wing cause, and then when you lose your job, blame the employer for getting rid of you because he's a bigot.  It's an interesting technique.  I'm not saying Kluwe did it, but there's a lesson here for others.  Others have done this, by the way.  I'm not saying Kluwe did it. 

I'm not sure he's right about his punting. He did not have a good year.  One of the reasons he was cut was 'cause he was not having a good year, but he addresses that in this article.  He said: Well, the coaches were asking me not to punt it as far because we had such a lousy special team that they couldn't cover deep kicks. So the coaches were asking me to kick it higher and shorter to give our decrepit team more time to get down to the ball carrier. 

That's what he wrote.

END TRANSCRIPT

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