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The Ice Bowl, revisited

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich
ALL |

Dallas Cowboys.

The words are almost too big to fit into your ear. You either love them or you hate them. Much like the baseball Yankees and the basketball Lakers, there’s no middle ground when the football Cowboys are mentioned.

I took a liking to the team in silver and blue, with the big star on their helmet, back in the late 1960s when it lost to Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in the NFL championship game. No, not the Super Bowl. There wasn’t one of those invented yet.



The year was 1967 and the game was played at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. The game is still referred to as The Ice Bowl because of the hostile weather conditions. The temperature was minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill of minus 48.

The rock- hard playing surface was more suited to hockey than football. The Ice Bowl remains the coldest NFL game on record.



The Packers managed to sneak out, literally, with a 21-17 victory when quarterback Bart Starr followed guard Jerry Kramer into the end zone as time expired.

During a Green Bay timeout prior to that final play, Starr was instructed by Coach Lombardi to run the “wedge” play, which called for a handoff to fullback Chuck Mercein.

According to David Maraniss’ book, “When Pride Still Mattered”, the last words that Starr heard from Lombardi as he headed back to the huddle were, “Run the play and let’s get the hell out of here.”

Starr called the play, as instructed, but thought the footing was too treacherous to risk giving the ball to Mercein. Starr kept the ball and, in doing so, gave Lombardi and the Packers their third consecutive NFL championship.

The Cowboys did put a scare into the Packers late in the game when running back Dan Reeves (remember him?) tossed a 50-yard option pass to receiver Lance Rentzel to give Dallas a short-lived 17-14 lead.

For you trivia buffs out there – of which I am one – there’s another famous Lance from Texas who was named after the popular Rentzel. That’s right, Lance Armstrong.

It’s been a challenge staying a Cowboy fan through the years since coach Tom Landry retired. Dallas did win the Super Bowl in 1992, ’93, and ’95, but with people like owner Jerry Jones and coaches Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Wade Phillips leading the way, it was hard to get too excited about things.

I wasn’t even too upset when Josh McDaniels and his Broncos went 4-0 after taking down the Cowboys last week. Denver fans should be excited about the direction the Broncos have taken under McDaniels, regardless of what the final record may indicate this year.

The Broncos are in good hands for years to come, as are the Rockies with Jim Tracy at the helm.

As for the Nuggets and their coach …

I have to close by issuing a long overdue apology to Gen Doak, who was the first lady of the Glenwood Springs Public Library for more years than I can remember. Calling upon all of my infinite sports wisdom, I told Doak in late August that there was “no possible way” that her CSU Rams could stay on the football field with the mighty Buffs from Boulder.

In her infinite wisdom, Gen now lets my sports opinions go in one ear and filter out the other.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.


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