NFL15 Cherry Division: Echoes of ’67, with Gloves

9 Jan

Reconstructing Legacies

It’s won’t be the Ice Bowl (‘67), and the “tundra” won’t be “frozen” when Dallas takes to Lambeau Field Sunday to face long-time rival Green Bay, not unless the forecast takes an icy turn for the worse (-13° ‘67). Weather folk expect seasonal cold on game-day (20°) w/partly cloudy skies, a slight warm-up from a frigid 11° predicted on Saturday before.

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But the cartels of Cowboys, Packers, assorted fandoms and production personnel that’ll fill the historical echo-chamber to its rafters this weekend (1-11 Fox 1:00 EST), will likely feel plenty snug, no matter the chilly climate.

In pre-game build-up, the hallowed history shared by the Pack and Lone Star bunch will hang heavy in the crispy & crackly Wisconsin air (unless, hace viento) as both squads fully fixate on trying to simultaneously reconstruct past winning ways while hoping to break with some losing legacies, old and not so old.

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For the Cowboys part, they’re making their first post-season visit to Packerland since that bitter cold day (and they were all day-timers back then), December 31, 1967, armed for bear and cheese, and bent on avenging the late-game, sneaky loss (QB Starr) to the host Packers (21-17) in a game many aged 50 & up consider the greatest ever played.

Some of the participants, on both sides, might disagree, saying, ‘It was no game, it was a frozen farce.’ But such a titanic test of wills, courage & creativity may never again be put to two squads, championship venue or otherwise.

What Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hopes to resurrect is two-fold: 1) a playoff prowess they’d had versus the Pack, all in Texas, that began in their next PS meet post-Ice Bowl, the strike-shortened ‘83 win over Bart Starr’s bunch (37-26) and ending in a barn-burner win over Holmgren & Co., 38-27 (‘96); and 2) locate their America’s Team playbook and return to the Super State that made them beloved, coast-to-coast (’72, 78, 93, 94, 96).

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While Dallas is America’s Team, Packers are most certainly History’s Team. Mike McCarthy looks to re-establish home-field advantage that’d made City-County-Lambeau fields graveyards for the title-dreams of visitors for 50 years. Of their last 9 playoffs, 5 have ended in home loses (‘14, 12, 08, 05, 03), something unheard of in days of Curly, Vince and even Bart (STL WC ’83).

So, what will Sunday’s frozen fist-a-cuff have in common with the Ice Bowl?

Besides the obvious (DAL @ GB, cold, etc.), these Packers, though not taking to tundra as defending champs (SEA), still can, like their brethren of yore, claim a superior status (SB ‘11) to Dallas who haven‘t supped champagne since ‘96. In ‘67, Tom Landry had not won an NFL title, having lost their chance (and trip to SB1) earlier the same year (1-1-67) in Big D, losing NFL championship to the Packers (27-34) to whom they’d fall yet again less than a year later in Green Bay.

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Another resemblance: the QBs. Like Starr, the greatest field tactician in the history of pro football, Packers current signal-caller Aaron Rodgers has an NFL title to his credit going into Sunday‘s match, whilst his Dallas opposite, Tony Romo, like Cowboys colorful and talented ‘67 signaler, “Dandy” Don Meredith, still seeks his own clutch-charm (ring).

What will be different?

Again, besides the obvious (more TV ads, crowd goofs, muscle-mass explosion), the field condition will be much improved.

In 1967, high-tech maintenance had just been hatched and through a series of miscues the installed technology, well, laid a hard, slippery egg. Today, it’s an art form and the turf will be playable, i.e., no razor-sharp ice shards or cement-bounce, the type of ricochet that sent GB’s top-hands in Boyd Dowler out early w/concussion from the legendary game.

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And then there’s the hand-wear.

It’s become part of Ice Bowl lore: Vince Lombardi’s refusal to allow sideline heaters and glove-wear for his men in this coldest of contests. Different days, indeed.

That didn’t stop Cantonese linebacker Dave Robinson from using his noggin. Cleverly, Dave donned a pair of dark hand-mittens in hopes the coach wouldn’t notice. He didn’t, or didn’t squawk about it, and Robinson saved his digits from frost-bite, a malady many would sustain and suffer lingering pains from for the rest of their days (See: J. Pugh).

But no such worries today, no sir-ee, Bob. Those cozy & comfy symbols of sissified man-hood, and sticky solution to the butter-fingered ball-hawk, that make a small mint ($) for a handful but a mockery of the sport, have practically everything covered. But admittedly, at this time of the year, in northern Wisconsin, a little C&C can be excused.

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Two questions leading up to Sunday‘s juggernaut joust, apart from how Aaron Rodgers calf injury plays out (“The secret is not minding that it hurts (O’Toole (LoA)):”

Who will be Chilly Bowl’s Chuck Mercein, Packers little used full-back (‘67: 14a, 56y) who was co-hero with Starr in breaking big runs in Green Bay’s final scoring drive?

And, will convalescing Bart and his former on-field nemesis, Bob Lilly (“Mr. Cowboy”) be watching the game? None better than those two. And yet the broadcast won’t be the same w/out Ray Scott (d. ’98) calling the action. Should be a “dandy,” Don (d. ’10). We remember.

Deconstructing Victory

It’s become the new, annoying tradition following football contests where questionable calls, and referees who make ‘em, are run through the ringer by faux-football media and easily excitable patrons, as it were a national crisis.

Simultaneous-gate (‘12) may’ve triggered this endless, post-game paralysis.

That’s when the visiting Packers were defeated in Seattle on a last-second hail Mary from QB Wilson to Golden Tate for the game-winning TD. Grab was upheld, offensive PI noted, the striking refs relieved the replacements and looming disaster was averted.

Last Sunday it was a no-call on a flagged pass play in Detroit – Dallas game that ruffled feathers. The hosts caught a break and media went bonkers, deconstructing the win and in the process, pinned a scarlet F (favored) on Dallas’ uniforms for the rest of their run.

Bottom line: Titlists overcome, or avoid adversity altogether. Just ask Jerry Kramer (Instant Replay (‘67)).

Deconstructing by Injury

“Got (Health)?” It matters, especially to those who put their bodies on the line, week in, week out. Football season takes its toll, oh Mama. Three of the four wild-card contests last weekend were shaped by injury outs.

Repairing the human body is not like a race car pulling into pit-row. Can’t just put on a new set of Goodyear® tires. And even if you could, it takes time to figure their form, learn game plan and develop synergy with mates.

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Cardinals, Steelers and Bengals all got bounced in the wild-card round but have injury excuse. That doesn’t mean Indy, Baltimore and Carolina were undeserving winners, just that it aught provide cover from Monday morning ne’er-do-wells who dish out harsh.

Case-in-point, ESPN’s Stephen Smith, co-host of First Take. The bombastic one stated that Cincinnati is “accepting mediocrity…not Marvin Lewis, but Mike Brown.” Oh.

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Only Smith and the new ESPN could spout silly, then leap-frog a black coach to get to the white owner, and get away with it, raising no racially-insensitive, red-flag.

Injuries late season can deconstruct a team. Replacements need time to acclimate to the scheme. Wiser football fans, players and brass will shrug & bear it when the wheels come off and look to next season in hopes of a healthier run.

This doesn’t necessarily mean Andy Dalton is, or is not, the long-term future for Cincy. He just wasn’t given a fair, and what some were figuring to be a final, playoff test in Colts game. Gotta let it play out in smart fashion.

Roger the Dodger

Mueller Report (in brief), released 1.8.15:

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Winners: Roger Goodell, NFL and football fans;

Losers: Anti-Rogerians (AP, select media scribes, TMZ, ESPN (Disney) elite, Ray Rice, anti-Redskins, NFLPA leaders, on-line trolls, minions, etc) and the Committee to Promote Condoleezza Rice for NFL Commissioner;

Unaffected (or lost in analysis): victims & perpetrators of domestic violence and / or abuse, and a “criminal justice system” which, curiously, Mr. Mueller apparently believes should not be template for private sector.

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Cherry Picks Divisional Rd: “No funny business”

Ravens @ New England: 1-10 NBC 4:35 EST: Pats win
Panthers @ Seattle: 8:15 Fox: Seahawks win
Cowboys @ Green Bay: 1-11 Fox 1:05: Dallas wins
Indianapolis @ Denver: CBS 4:40: Broncos win

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: IceBowl, art, wc.cca, JL1Row, GBHoF, ’10; Icebowl, Gorham, 1871, HMoA, Pearl, ’13, wc.cca; Dallas.cowboys, wordmark, wc.cca; Packers, wc.cca, ’59, word-mark; Romo, wc.cca, bigcatsliar, ’10; NFLgloves, USMC.Iraq, 7.27.06, Cpl.Lewis, wc.cca; Rodgers, Morbeck, wc.cca, ’08; Bengals, wc.cca, wordmark, ‘71-96; ESPN, CT, Jkinsocal, ’13, wc.cca; Goodell, wc.cca, 8.30.12, SSG.T.Wade, USMA; cherries, wc.cca, ’11, picdrome.
Posted: 1-8-15 @ 11:59pm EST

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