Sunday’s Snow Game Was All I Wanted for Christmas

Last Sunday’s Bills-Colts game in a prototypical “Lake Effect” blizzard, might have been the “deepest accumulation game” the league has ever seen. I don’t think they keep stats on that, but they should.

Judging by what we saw on TV, I’d say the boys played in at least 6 inches of fresh powder, if not 8 inches or possibly more. The should-have-been game winning 2-point throw and catch to TE Jack Doyle, saw him prancing about in an endzone of virgin powder that would have made even Vail or Breckenridge envious.

It was…. awesome. On so many levels.

For starters, there cannot be enough credit given to CBS and their technical crew for delivering a televised product that was not just watchable despite the blizzard, but actually lovely in many regards. The team of cameramen, cable-pullers, production assistants and foot soldiers should win an Emmy for their work. (Is THERE an Emmy for “Best Broadcast In Utterly Miserable Weather Conditions?”) Even better, when the snow did let up a bit in the second half, the main camera angle delivered a picture that had the extra shine of a certain Christmas classic you probably know.

“The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below..”

It’s ironic that the NFL will now regularly suspend play with just a hint of lightning anywhere within 10 miles of the stadium (like with the nearly 90 minute delay in the Broncos-Cowboys game earlier this year) but they won’t even think about delaying a game in snow to maybe wait until it lets up a bit, or to work on clearing the field so the game is more playable.

Nah! Nobody’s gonna die… right? Play ball!

@unholyxvii @jake_has_a_tail #NumbBillsFan #Bills #BillsMafia #BuffaloBills #PunchDrunkSports #blur

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Football is indeed, the one outdoor sport that endeavors to ALWAYS….. play on… no matter what. Football is the United States Postal Officer of sports: neither wind, nor sleet, nor rain shall stop this game from being played!

And I’m fine with it. There’s always ways to adjust your attack, and all 22 guys have to play in the same conditions. Footing wasn’t good. Blocking wasn’t clean. Players were slow. So what!

As the game wore on, I became more and more fascinated with the physics (and chemistry) of snow removal, juxtaposed with limited time and resources. “Hmmmm, I thought stroking my chin. Couldn’t they bring in a fleet of snowblowers, snowthrowers, plows, or power-brooms at halftime, and get that field accumulation knocked back to zero, I wondered?”

Well, problem one: where would you put it all? If it really was 8 inches on the ground, then you start stacking up 8 inches on 8 inches on 8 inches…. well, you’ll have a parking lot mountain pretty quick. If you put those mountains in the endzones, you would need a front end loader to manage exactly where you stacked it.

Also, I was told by a Bills fan that in a previous snowstorm, the Bills grounds crew DID use a powersweep to clear the field, but that it had the unintended result of sweeping off all of the rubber-pellet infill that is used in modern field turf.

Mass-melting snow is always an attractive thought, and I have been pointed to various videos of massive industrial snow-melting machines that some cities have had to use when there was nowhere left to dump the white stuff.

Of course, you can’t just make it disappear. It then becomes a giant machine with a full belly of water! Surely, you couldn’t use those inside the stadium.

Okay, back to why the game was amazing.

Adam Vinitieri. Now owns the two best snow kicks in NFL history, one for a game tying 45-yard FG in the Tuck Rule Game (the actual game winner was relative chip shot) and a howling 43-yard extra point that hooked with the wind in this one to force overtime. (Note: Vinitieri’s fluffed miss early in the game, has likely lowered his season-long bonus for accuracy, costing him almost $500,000!)

Bare Hands: I have no idea how or why these tough guys play football in the snow bare handed like they do. Maybe there’s not a good “weather glove” that has yet been developed by NFL equipment makers that can perform and function while maintaining body heat.

Win the Game! The Colts still played like the game was important to them! This fact is still one of the reasons the NFL remains the gold standard of American spectator sports. Players still TRY hard even when seasons are lost and quitting would be the relatively easy (and sane) thing to do. Even the oft-mentioned phrase about players always putting good football “on tape for other teams to see” didn’t even apply here! They were playing in 8 inches of snow! But the logic of football remains constant: you gotta be out there for 60 minutes getting smashed up no matter what. Might as well try to win the damn game.

Most football loving adults my age, having grown up in Northern climates, have played a backyard “snow game” at least once in their lifetimes. When the chance presents itself, it’s a giddy joy getting out there, and splashing around in the powder.

But as my memory serves, those game lose tended to lose their lustre and joy before too long. Fingers became numb. Bitterly cold patches of mud and water formed underneath the snowpack, soaking your jeans after random tackles. Your lungs started to burn after processing giant gulpfuls of arctic cold air.

It got “un-fun” pretty quick. But for the better-men-than-you-and-me of the NFL, those guys kept playing. Unfazed. Amazing.

Here’s to the Bills and Colts! And CBS! And to a visual Christmas present delivered a few weeks early. Dilly Dilly!

 

About the Author

Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. He also appears on "Bob and Brian" in Milwaukee. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Want more of them! Nothing better than watching a snow game like that from the couch in front of the fireplace. I might just watch Army-Navy each weekend for the rest of the season. Great stuff…

  2. couldn’t agree more with anything stated (gleefully) here … brings back fond memories of backyard ball growing up in Erie, PA.

  3. Snow football games were a blast when we were kids. It was always best when the snow was still falling. Great memories from the 70’s!

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