Not a bad piece: Good pub for Dan Gibbons and a semi-believable quote from Jerry Steinberg!
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
So It Looks Cold on Camera? Try Operating One
By RICHARD SANDOMIR
Published: January 15, 2008
On Jan. 10, 1982, Cris Collinsworth, then a rookie wide receiver, awakened to a report on his hotel clock radio that the temperature outside was 13 degrees below zero and that the howling 35-mile-an-hour wind made it feel like 59 below.
Not a great day for the Cincinnati Bengals’ American Football Conference championship game against San Diego.
In the Bengals’ locker room at Riverfront Stadium, players gathered around a large box. “Whatever it was,” Collinsworth said Monday, “I was going to get mine.” Inside was a supply of Hanes queen-sized panty hose; it wasn’t exactly a Joe Namath moment.
“You’ve never seen anything, until you’ve seen Anthony Muñoz and our offensive line trying to get into Hanes queen-sized panty hose,” said Collinsworth, the NBC/HBO/NFL Network analyst.
Twenty-six years later, Collinsworth insisted that he didn’t slip on a pair and didn’t know if Coach Forrest Gregg donned one either. “Nobody would ask him,” he said. “We were too scared of him.” As an offensive guard for the Green Bay Packers, Gregg survived the Ice Bowl of Dec. 31, 1967, when the wind chill measured 48 below for the game at Lambeau Field, which became forever immortalized as America’s frozen tundra.
On Sunday, the conference championship games will be played in frigid, if not such severe conditions. Fred Gadomski, a meteorologist at Penn State University, said that for the 3 p.m. start of the San Diego-New England game in Foxborough, Mass., the temperature will be in the mid-20s, with 15- to 25-m.p.h. winds.
But with an Arctic front settling over Green Bay, the Packers and the Giants will probably start their 6:30 p.m. National Football Conference title game with the mercury in the low teens, then falling to single digits.
Jeff Last, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Green Bay, said he saw little likelihood that he would issue any warnings about extreme or dangerous cold.
Very cold weather is expected at certain times in N.F.L. cities, and the possibility of playing those games at night is a burden borne by sedentary fans who don’t run back kicks or make sacks. The league moved some wild-card and divisional playoff games to prime time in 2002 and pushed its conference title games to later starts in 2003 so that one would kick off around 6:30 p.m.
Greg Aiello, a league spokesman, said temperatures didn’t fluctuate by more than a few degrees from afternoon to evening. “And people in cold-weather climates are used to it,” he said.
While there will be fans who will reject Aiello’s meteorological analysis, it’s worth noting that the Ice Bowl, the Freezer Bowl (the San Diego-Cincinnati title game) and the Carolina-Green Bay N.F.C. conference championship in 1997 (game-time temperature: 8 degrees) were all played in the afternoon.
The late starts give NBC, CBS and Fox one prime-time exposure each, an invitation to charge advertisers more because of larger audiences. The league isn’t likely to flip a night and a day game if a long-range forecast calls for extraordinary winter weather, unless rogue icebergs were surging down Lake Michigan.
Severe weather is a boon for football-watching, and the broadcasts are produced by people standing in it. Dan Gibbons, a Fox cameraman, stood on a mobile platform about 10 feet off the Lambeau turf Saturday, shooting the wintry scene that only seemed to improve Brett Favre’s game. At one point, Fox showed Gibbons standing against the snow. “I loved it,” he said Monday. “You can’t move around much, but you’re right above the benches.”
Watching from the network’s truck in Foxborough, Ken Aagaard, senior vice president for operations for CBS Sports, caught glimpses of Green Bay. “I was jealous,” he said, adding that those “big chunks of snow look great in HD.”
Fox and CBS take extra measures to protect their people and equipment in unusual cold. Cameras are wrapped. Lenses get heaters. Cables are kept off the ground to prevent them from freezing and cracking. “My main concern is with our people,” said Jerry Steinberg, the vice president for field operations for Fox Sports. “They’re the warriors; they don’t complain. If we lose a camera, we have 17 more.”
Aagaard added, “Operating a camera is very tactile; it’s hard to pan, tilt and zoom in the cold.”
It isn’t easy playing, either. Collinsworth said that within five seconds of leaving the locker room on that frigid day in 1982, “My face cracked and started to bleed.” His first catch “felt like a sledgehammer crashing into a giant mirror and watching all the pieces fall to the ground.”
“I dropped it and recovered it,” he said. “Luckily, I only caught two that day.”
The Giants’s 21-17 victory over Dallas late Sunday afternoon on Fox produced a 25.8 overnight rating, the highest for a divisional playoff game since 1997.