Weather, loss make Sunday at Lambeau a letdown

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Tom Miller
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Early last week, there was absolutely no way I was going to Lambeau Field on Sunday to watch the Packers' playoff game.

No freezing way. Not with it being just a wild-card playoff game.

And especially with the frigid forecast.

In the end, a friend's urging late Thursday night convinced me to go because of the forecast.

And that peer pressure put four of us in Section 104 on Sunday.

When it was over, the day didn't live up to its hype.

Certainly not the game, which ended with the 49ers kicking a field goal in the final second to win 23-20. I'll always remember how quiet Lambeau Field, filled with nearly 78,000 fans, was after that kick.

And the cold? Instead of being the second-coldest game in NFL history, it was just the seventh-coldest game ever played at Lambeau.

If you were dressed properly, Sunday's game was no different than one in September, except scarves and gloves muted the crowd noise and space on the aluminum bench seats was at even more of a premium than usual because fans were bloated by layers of undergear and winter coats.

One of our group, Dan Schultz, entered the stadium wearing a white ski helmet with dark goggles and a thin white jumpsuit as an outer layer.

He looked like Darth Vader. Sitting on the end seat next to the aisle, he received hundreds of slaps—several unwanted—from Packer fans.

I was decked out with $60 worth of new long underwear: two layers beneath my jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.  Then I wore a long-sleeved T-shirt, a Packer hoodie and a Packer winter jacket.

Two pairs of socks, including a thermal pair, chemical toe warmers, insulated boots, a stocking cap and a pair of gloves completed my fashion statement.

Two others—Goose and Marty—had ski pants and overalls for outer layers on top of several other layers of clothing.

None of us suffered for a second.

The four San Francisco fans in the row in front of us showed signs of inconvenience. The younger guy, the one with the tattoo on his neck, had a scarf wrapped around his face, and his wife was either bent over with a blanket draped around her or in the concourse most of the game.

When the guy raised his arms and yelled after the 49ers scored their first touchdown, some not-so-sympathetic Packer fan threw a square piece of Styrofoam in the 49ers fans' direction. It hit one of them in the back of the head.

The response of the man who was hit will not be reprinted here.

Luckily for everyone involved, their group of four slowly dwindled during the second half, and no one was left when the bitter end arrived.

At no point was I cold enough to seek the warmth of the heated men's bathroom or a cup of the free hot chocolate that was handed out. We each had two drinks while eating at a De Pere bar before the game, but we stopped after that.

Dan and I were at our seats the entire game.

My cellphone's battery did not fare as well. From a full charge, one photo and text put the “low battery” message on the screen.

With no noticeable wind inside the stadium, it was actually a letdown for people who were looking for a challenge. If conditions would have included Monday's gusty blasts, this column might have been much different.

As we were making the half-mile walk back to our vehicle after the game, Schultz wished there would have been snow and wind, saying, “When you prepare for the worst and don't get it, it's kind of a letdown.”

 “Speak for yourself,” I thought.

Still, if the Packers had won, it would have been a memorable day at Lambeau.

Instead, we watched the offensive-minded Packers lose again in the wintry conditions of Lambeau Field.

We survived. The Packers did not.

Tom Miller is a page designer/sports writer for The Gazette.

Last updated: 1:32 am Tuesday, January 7, 2014

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