Chuck Lane was heading out from the locker room to check the field when he met a group of assistants coming the other way. They had a message for the coach, an unwelcome one, the sort of news they would rather have Lane tell him. "Tell Lombardi that his field is frozen," one said. Tell Lombardi that his field his frozen? That, Lane thought, would be like "telling him that his wife had been unfaithful or that his dog couldn't hunt..."
Gary Knafelc, the old tight end, was in the press box that day. His playing career done, he could not stay away and signed on as Lambeau Field's public address announcer. Looking out from his perspective atop the stadium, he was overwhelmed by the panorama. The players were the story, perhaps, and as the game went along they would rivet his and everyone else's attention, but at first it was hard to take one's eyes off the crowd in the stands. "There was incredible haze of breath, tens of thousands of puffs coming out. Like seeing big buffaloes in an enormous herd on the winter plains. It was prehistoric."
To many fans, attending this game was a test of their resourcefulness. Carol Schmidt and her husband, who worked in the oil business, sat in Section 24 near the twenty-yard line, where they snuggled inside a makeshift double sleeping bag made from the heavy mill felt used at the local paper mills. To warm their feet they turned a three-pound coffee can upside down, punched holes in the top and placed a large candle inside on a pie plate.
Bob Kaminksy arrived from Two Rivers with his wife's twin brothers and took his seat in the end zone, oblivious of the weather. "This is what I wore," he reported. "Longjohns. Work shoes. Over the work shoes I put those heavy gray woolen socks that came over the knees. Pair of galoshes over that. Flannel pajamas over the longjohns. Work overalls. A T-shirt. Flannel shirt. Insulated sweatsuit. Heavy parka. Face mask with holes for mouth and eyes. Wool tassel cap. And then I climbed into a sleeping bag. I had foam on the ground and seat for my feet and butt. I was not cold..."
The temperature on the field as kickoff approached was thirteen below, with an estimated wind chill of minus forty-six. The leather ball felt heavy and airless. The field had already been rendered more dangerous from the warmups. Players said it was as if someone had taken a stucco wall and laid it on the ground. Clumps of mud had coagulated and stuck to the rock-hard ground. Blowers on both sides of the field shot warm air in the direction of the benches, but you had to be right next to one to feel it. Some players huddled in makeshift dugouts constructed from wood and canvas, like duck blinds.
Lombardi paced the sidelines in his long winter coat and black fuzzy hat with muffs. No matter how cold the Packers felt, one look across to the other side made them feel superior. The Cowboys, said Chuck Mercein, "looked like earthmen on Mars. The outfits they wore. Most of them had hooded sweatshirts on underneath their helmets, which looked silly as hell. And a kind of scarf thing around their faces with their eyes cut out. They looked like monsters in a grade B movie..."
Ray Scott, calling the game for CBS with Jack Buck and Frank Gifford, insisted on having a window open in their booth. "You don't have the feel of the game, otherwise," he said. Gifford was losing his feel for anything. "I think I'll take another bite out of my coffee," he muttered famously on the air.