Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contains a fascinating oral history of the December 31, 1967, “Ice Bowl” NFL Championship Game between Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers and Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys.
Link to the article here.
Several thoughts come to mind after reading the article. Most most prominent is the realization that this game should NEVER have been played in the first place. Several of the players suffered lasting effects from frostbite and injuries related to the bitter cold and icy conditions on the field that day. Blame goes to NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, who more or less ignored his own players’ well-being while concentrating his attention instead on the AFL Championship Game he decided to attend in Oakland, California.
Along with wondering why the NFL commissioner would attend another league’s championship instead of literally minding his own business and attending the one he was responsible for, I guess my main takeaway from reflecting on Rozelle’s radio silence that day is a conviction that people in the top jobs are morally obligated to maintain a laserlike focus on the people they serve. Which Rozelle did not. Although communications technology fifty years ago was not what it is today, and although the huge drop in temperature from the mid-twenties to -16 degrees took everyone by surprise, Rozelle still should have been on top of weather conditions (December 31 in Wisconsin, after all😄) and been ready to call the game off if necessary.
On the other hand, my second takeaway from this article is how AMAZING these players were, not to mention the referees and coaching staffs and all the fans (those 50,861 hardy souls!) who filled the stadium that day. It takes stories like this, the stuff of legend really, to illustrate the extremely stern stuff of which humans are made and the astonishing, incredible greatness that we’re capable of when faced with an insurmountable challenge.