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How NFL Players Beat the Extreme Cold

Sports By
of the Chicago Bears of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 11, 2005 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
NFL teams the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers battle on a cold, highly snowy day at Heinz Field on December 11, 2005. (Getty Images)

 

Football is a sport for those who can handle the extreme cold. After all, the season runs through the dead of winter, and franchises are located in such sunny climes as Minnesota and Green Bay. So how do players function in temperatures that would make most of us immediately seek shelter?

Seems that there are tricks. Old-school ones. Matt Bowen compiled some of the best ones for ESPN.com. (And the former safety should know, having played college football in Iowa and ended his NFL career in Buffalo.) Here are some of his top tips for fighting off the freeze.

Get to the bench. Bowen urges: “Don’t stand around when you get a break.” NFL benches are heated and boast slots for your feet. They also offer helmet warmers, so you can remove your helmet yet still keep it toasty.

Vaseline. If you want to seem macho with your exposed arms and not actually get them amputated from frostbite, apply a thick coating of Vaseline. It should also be liberally applied to the face. (“It sounds kind of ridiculous, but I used Vaseline in Green Bay from Thanksgiving through the playoffs when the temperatures would fall.”)

Layers. Sometimes the easiest solutions are decidedly low-tech. Bowen suggests a fleece turtleneck, long underwear, and cold-gear leggings. (“You don’t want to look like the kid from A Christmas Story stuffed into his snowsuit, but having more layers is always a good idea.”)

Hand warmers aren’t just for hands. Bowen notes that “instant hand warmers [you] buy at gas stations” are beloved in the NFL, not only when they’re used on hands, but also taped to the tops of feet and even shoved inside the ear holes of helmets.

Hit the hot chicken broth. Bowen asserts it’s perfect if you need to “refuel on the sideline” and a “great way to keep your body temperature up.” (Just don’t gorge yourself since no one wants to deal with “vomit all over the field.”)

To read more, click here. Below, watch a short film on the 1967 NFL Championship Game. Better known as the Ice Bowl, it was played in Green Bay and saw the Packers take on the Cowboys in -13 degree temperatures. (Once the wind factor was included, it was -48 degrees.)