Let’s talk about the coldest NFL games of all time. If you’ve been following the NFL this week, you’re hip to the fact that there’s some snow in cold Buffalo. A lot of snow. Some places got 6 feet, with more on the way. Oh, and indie rock band Interpol was stuck on a Buffalo highway for 50 hours or so, which is pretty crazy.
Buffalo residents were initially asked to help clear out Ralph Wilson Stadium so that the team can play on Sunday against the Jets, another cold weather outdoor stadium team, albeit one that gets far less extreme weather. The NFL has since moved the game to avoid having fans freeze to death at one of the coldest games in NFL history.
This turn of events, although it’s more snow-related than outright cold (it’s “only” 27 in Buffalo as I write this, but plenty snowy) has us looking back on the craziest winter weather games in NFL history. And since data on snowfall is a little spotty, we’re going with temperature, so here are the nine coldest NFL games ever. Button up!
How fitting. Remember that streak of Buffalo Super Bowl appearances? Well, to get there, they had to play in January Championship games, some of which were home games. And Buffalo plus January equals cold. And almost always snow, seeing as how Buffalo is the snowiest city in the US, something that was substantiated this week. Since Buffalo made the Super Bowl this year, you can infer that they beat the Raiders. The Raiders don’t fare well in the cold, as you’ll see.
9. 1994 – Ralph Wilson Stadium
Christmas brought a sh*tton of cold weather to Wisconsin, as it does every year. On Dec. 26th, 1993, the Packers squared off against the Raiders. Apparently the Pack were a little more accustomed to the weather because they took the 0 degree temperatures and leveraged them to a 28-0 victory.
8. 1993 – Lambeau Field
Before there was the Metrodome, there was an outdoor stadium in Minnesota. You could imagine how well that went over in winter games. Actually, you don’t have to imagine because it’s on this list. So we’ll tell you. It was cold. On December 10th, it was 0 degrees for a game between the Vikings and Packers. And it had actually warmed up from the week before. See below.
7. 1972 – Metropolitan Stadium
A week prior, it was still pretty damn cold in Minnesota. Man, I’m glad I wasn’t living there that winter. I would have never left the house. It was -2 degrees with a wind chill of -15. Remarkably, this wasn’t a January playoff game. Nope. This game took place on December 3, and the Bears were 4-9-1 that season, and the Vikes were 7-7. Not high stakes, but still really, really cold.
6. 1972 – Metropolitan Stadium (Yes, again)
Hello again, Lambeau. We can always count on you for lists like this. You’re the Frozen Tundra for a reason. Here, we saw the Packers and Giants square off in the 2008 NFC Championship game, where the stakes couldn’t have been higher. OK. It could have been the Super Bowl, but they never would have held that outside. Until this year. And even then, NY/NJ won’t hit -5…probably. Anyway, the fans were predictably out in full force despite a -24 wind chill. That’s like springtime in Wisconsin.
5. 2008 – Lambeau Field
A quick aside: How fitting is it that Cleveland’s stadium was “Cleveland Municipal Stadium?” Answer: Very fitting. It’s a utilitarian name for a blue-collar fan base. I guess they couldn’t just hang a tarp on the outside that said “Football Inside.”
The playoff game between the Browns and the Raiders took place on January 4. Logic says that Cleveland, being the home team and used to the -5 degree weather, would have the advantage. But logic would also say that Cleveland would disappoint their fans. The latter prevailed and the Browns lost 14-12.
4. 1981 – Cleveland Municipal Stadium
I don’t remember if this is when El Nino was doing its thing, but I think we can assume it was. I mean, it’s a little odd that Kansas City was getting temperatures of
-6 degrees, even in January for a playoff game. At least they were playing the Colts, so while neither team was prepared for below zero temps, they were adept at getting blasted by cold, the Chiefs during games, and the Colts just by virtue of living in Indianapolis.
3. 1996 – Arrowhead Stadium
It’s pretty crazy that the second-coldest game in NFL history was played in Cincinnati, a place that is no doubt cold, but not known to be the tundra of a few other locales in the league. Nonetheless, fans and players were welcomed to the Chargers-Bengals AFC Championship Game with a temp. of -9 degrees and a wind chill of -59. Yes. You read that right. The coldest place in Antarctica today was
-51. It’s very fun to imagine the Chargers gearing up for this game. “All I brought was a t-shirt, coach!”
2. 1982 – Riverfront Stadium
Here we go. Fun fact: According to people who love to glamorize the past, the temperatures at the Ice Bowl at Lambeau were roughly -700 Fahrenheit and the players all wore leather helmets and died of exhaustion the moment the game end. Ok. None of those things happened, but the game was plenty impressive without hyperbole. On New Year’s Eve, 1967, the Cowboys played the Packers at Lambeau Field. And it was cold. It was the “NFL Championship” game and the temperature was -13, -48 with wind chill. -48. Once the Super Bowl came around, the league wisely decided to start putting the game in domes and Phoenix. Good call.